[CAT] Twelve photos from the TOT Cat Café, 298 College Street
Thursday, when I was walking west along College, I passed by TOT Cat Café (298 College Street, Toronto’s only cat café. I had long been curious about the place, following the different fundraising efforts aiming to set up a cat café in Toronto starting a couple of years ago and then hearing last spring about the scandal when the Toronto Humane Society stopped supplying this cafe with cats for adoption (CBC, Toronto Star, Reddit). The sign outside showed that the cafe was still in operation, and promised. I needed some coffee and could enjoy something sweet, so why not go inside?
The cafe is organized as a sort of double enclosure, the cafe space surrounding the inner double-doored chamber open to the street where the cats reside.
After I finished my enjoyable coffee and cheesecake, and being briefed on the rules, I passed inside. There were thirteen cats, I was told, most hiding in the carpeted cubby holes at the far end, but some spilling into bowls and on top of ladders in plain view. The cats–apparently sourced by Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief, part of the effort to retrieve cats and other pets dumped at the Scarborough Bluffs–were available for adoption at a cost of $C 150 per cat. Posters listing the cats’ names, ages, and availability were on the west wall, but the other people there were not paying close attention to those. They were looking at the cats.
As far as I could tell, the cats seemed to be in good shape. The staff was clear in laying out the rules–no feeding, no poking, and so on–and the people in the cat enclosure with me obeyed these. The cats, for their parts, seemed both healthy and relaxed, comfortable enough with their environment to sleep and contented with being gazed at from afar. I left not feeling as if I had exploited the cats in an situation unsuited for them–the whole institution seemed to be working out.