Visiting a Cat Adoption Cafe

Caitlin Dempsey


An orange tabby relaxing on a wooden bench. Colorful paper lanterns attached to the ceiling are in the background. A wooden table is behind the cat.

Picking out a cat that is a good fit can sometimes be an unsure process. Animals in shelters can often be under a lot of stress and it can be hard to understand their temperaments. The true personality of a cat doesn’t emerge until the cat is in a low stress environment.

Cat adoption cafés, also known as cat adoption lounges, are emerging as a more pleasant atmosphere for getting to know cats that are available for adoption. Visiting cat adoption cafés is also a fun and noncommittal way to get your “cat fix” without the responsibility of adopting a cat.

We paid a visit to a cat adoption lounge in San Jose, California known as the Dancing Cat. The adoption lounge is run by the Karma Cat Rescue, a non-profit organization that helps to adopt out rescued cats in the area.

For a nominal fee ($10 per person), the Dancing Cat allows visitors one hour of cat-filled time. Adults and children older than five years of age are welcome.

When we entered the foyer, we first sanitized our hands. A friendly volunteered welcomed us into the main space which is a very bright and large room. She explained about the cat lounge, the cats available for adoption within the space, and the brief rules (no picking up cats and be calm around them).

After the small introduction, we were free to enjoy our cat time at the lounge. About 10-15 cats are usually in the lounge at any given time.

A set of four drawings on a white wall featuring dancing cats.  A black cat in the background is climbing down from a white cat shelf.
The Dancing Cat Adoption Lounge is a bright and spacious cagefree environment for cats waiting for adoption. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Cats at the Dancing Cat lounge are cage free and have free access to the entire space as a well as a more quiet back room which houses beds for the cats. The lounge was remarkably clean and odor free.

The lounge is set up to strike a balance between providing the cats with a safe and fun environment while allowing potential adopters the chance to meet and spend time with the cats.

Lots of places for cats to play and hang out

All of the cats in the lounge were very social and seemed happy to hang out and play with the visitors.

A black and white cat and an orange tabby cat hanging out at the feet of a person wearing white sneakers.  The person is dancing an orange cat string toy while sitting on a chair at a long table with metal legs.
The cats in the lounge were very comfortable with human interaction. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Lots of toys were on hand for the cats to play with. Baskets contained wand toys that visitors could use to play with the cats.

An orange tabby cat playing on a light blue carpet underneath a table with a wand cat toy.
This orange tabby cat enjoyed a play session with a cat wand toy. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

After all, what cat can resist the lure of a cat wand dangling near it?

A black cat grabbing at an orange feather dangling from a cat wand tool.  The cat is lying underneath a medium brown wooden table on a light blue carpet. A teal metal chair is the in background.
Most cats love to try and catch feathers dangled in front of them. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

The cats enjoyed playing in and around a cat tunnel on the floor.

A black cat lying in the opening of a blue, white, and gray cat tunnel on a light brown tile floor.
The long cat tunnel was a popular place for the cats to play. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

An orange tabby relaxes on a bench after a fun play session.

An orange tabby relaxing on a wooden bench.  Colorful paper lanterns attached to the ceiling are in the background.  A wooden table is behind the cat.
An orange tabby at the lounge relaxing. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Sit on the couch, and you might be joined by a cat.

A torbie cat sitting on a blue couch with colorful pillows.  The arm of a person is petting the back of the cat while a white cat  wand toy with a blue handle lies in front of the cat.
All of the cats in the lounge were comfortable with the presence of humans. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Sunny windows for cats to watch from

There were plenty of windows to let in natural light while also allowing the cats to what’s going on in the outside world. This torbie cat was excited to watch some volunteers bringing a donation of canned cat food to the lounge.

A cat watches through a window with white vertical bars. Three people are walking by out on the sidewalk.
Windows provided extra excitement for the cats. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

She might just be licking her lips in anticipation of all that food.

A torbie sititng in front of a sunny window licking her lips.
Canned cat food delivery? Yes, please! Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Watching the action from up on a cat shelf

There were cat shelfs along the wall which gave cats a place to get up above the action if they wanted to get away from other cats and humans.

A medium-haired black cat sitting on a white wall shelf against a white wall.
Wall shelves give cats a place to sit up high to watch the action in the lounge. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Places for cats to rest

Cats also could be found resting behind the drapes where this orange tabby found some sun to enjoy.

An orange tabby sits by a window in the sun on a white ledge, partially behind a gray curtain.
An orange tabby rests on a ledge in the sun. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

This torbie took a break from the action inside a cat shelter.

A torbie sits inside a small gray colored cat shelter.
A small cat shelter provides a quiet moment for a torbie. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Places for cat refreshment

After some play time, this orange tabby needed refreshment.

An orange tabby cat drinking water from a cat water fountain. White blinds can be seen in the background.
Cat water fountains provided fresh circulating water for thirsty cats. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Pots of cat grass on the table provided a place to have a nibble.

An orange tabby sniffs some cat grass in a gray pot on a wooden table.  Colorful paper lanterns on the ceiling are in the background.
An orange tabby checks out the cat grass. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Visit a cat lounge in your area

Since the focus of the Dancing Cat lounge is to adopt out adult cats, most of the cats available for adoption were fully grown although there was a bonded six-month old pair in the room as well. The organization has even more adoptable cats in its network that are with foster families.

In the San Jose area? Visit the the Dancing Cat for more information on their hours and how to book a reservation for a visit.

If you’re not in the San Jose area, search for “cat adoption lounge” to find one closer to you.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.