Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Catfe and the BC SPCA partnering to help adopt cats?

Catfe was created based on the dream of creating a welcoming, cat-focused community space where people can enjoy the company of happy cats. The BC SPCA takes in over 13,000 homeless cats per year and cares for them until loving homes can be found. The BC SPCA also works hard to help raise awareness about cats, and to offer programs that reduce overpopulation and improve cat welfare. With this shared love of cats, it made purrfect sense to create a partnership so that some of the homeless cats at the BC SPCA have the chance to meet their forever families at Catfe.

How does the partnership between Catfe and the BC SPCA work?

Catfe is an independently owned business, and their cat lounge is designated as a BC SPCA Satellite Adoption Centre. This means that Catfe provides the facility, staff, and daily care, as well as bringing in customers and adopters. The BC SPCA provides supplies (food, litter, sanitation products), protocols (adoption matching, health, welfare), staff training, volunteers, and most importantly — cats! Prior to being introduced to Catfe, all of the cats go through the usual BC SPCA intake process which includes a physical and behavioural assessment, spay/neuter surgery, vaccines, internal and external parasite control, microchip identification, and treatment of any medical problems identified.

What is the difference between Catfe and a traditional animal shelter?

Catfe is a custom-designed open space where carefully selected cats live and interact with each other and with the public in a home-like environment. Traditional animal shelters house cats in cages or small rooms and typically take in a large variety of cats whose only common trait is that they are in need of rehoming. Certain cats thrive in the Catfe environment; some of these cats (such as very outgoing cats or cats accustomed to large areas) may become frustrated in traditional shelter housing. Other cats, such as those who do not like other cats, are shy around humans, or need special individual diets or care do better in a traditional shelter. Having both options available offers cats the best of both worlds! And just like cats, some humans prefer visiting in a home-like environment rather than a traditional animal shelter.

What types of cats go to Catfe for adoption?

Because of the special design of Catfe, not all cats are suitable to send to Catfe for adoption. Cats at Catfe must be:

  • Already spayed or neutered
  • Friendly and social with other cats and people and comfortable in a café setting (frequent interactions with many unknown people who will be soliciting play and petting)
  • Free of signs of infectious disease, and with no known exposure to infectious disease
  • Over 5 months of age
  • Not in a stray hold (the 4 day holding period after arrival while the BC SPCA attempts to locate the guardian of a stray cat) and not part of an active BC SPCA cruelty investigation
  • Not requiring individual special diet or individual treatment/monitoring of behaviour or health parameters

How are cats matched with good homes?

Applications are taken in by trained Catfe staff and/or BC SPCA volunteers using the BC SPCA’s adoption matching process. Adoption paperwork is then sent to staff at the BC SPCA Vancouver Branch to be finalized. The conversation-based matching process involves sharing information about the cat and the home in order to make the best possible match.

Why does Catfe try to send home most adopted cats on one specific day of the week, and bring in most new cats on another day?

We schedule pick-ups to send cats who have been approved for adoption home with their new families on Thursdays, when we close down to welcome our new arrivals. Cats generally do better in a stable environment where frequent change is avoided. After the first month of operation, the Catfe team also noticed that when only a few cats remained after others were adopted, those few cats seemed more stressed. Our new adoption schedule is based on the animal sheltering concept of “all-in/all-out.” This concept minimizes animal stress and infectious disease by moving most or all animals out for adoption, allowing the facility to be cleaned, and then bringing in a new group of animals.

Why is there variation in the number of cats available for adoption at Catfe?

The number of cats available depends on a variety of factors. These include: adoption rates at Catfe, types of cats entering BC SPCA shelters in the Lower Mainland (because cats must meet the above criteria), availability of transportation for cats to Catfe, availability of veterinary appointments for spay/neuter surgery, cat interactions at Catfe, and other factors. Because these factors cannot all be predicted or controlled, the number of cats at Catfe varies from week to week.

Why are there sometimes not very many cats to visit at Catfe?

Because the number of cats available to send to Catfe varies, as described above, there may be times when fewer cats are available to visit. Both Catfe and the BC SPCA strive to keep a happy group of 8 to 12 cats at Catfe, but ensuring the health and welfare of the cats by following the protocols for cat selection is the first priority. This may mean that fewer cats than expected are able to go to Catfe in a given week. (Visit catfe.ca/cats to meet our current residents!) In addition to the factors above, there may be times when some cats choose to retreat to the 'purrivate' cat-only room and not interact with humans in the main visiting area.

Do Catfe and the BC SPCA work with other organizations to obtain cats for Catfe, when cat numbers are low?

Yes. For health and biosecurity reasons, cats from other organizations cannot be brought directly to Catfe and mixed with cats who are already there. However, the BC SPCA is always looking for other organizations to partner with when there is extra space in BC SPCA facilities to help cats (and dogs) find homes. Other shelters and rescue groups looking to transfer animals to Catfe (or other BC SPCA facilities) for adoption can contact Jodi Dunlop at the BC SPCA directly at jdunlop@spca.bc.ca. Cats will be transferred to the care of the BC SPCA through the Vancouver, West Vancouver, or Burnaby branches, where they will undergo the full intake process described above. If the cat is not suitable to go to Catfe, the BC SPCA will adopt the cat(s) out from a BC SPCA facility, or the rescue or shelter can choose to bring the cat(s) back into their care.

Can I give my cat to Catfe to rehome?

For health and biosecurity reasons, cats cannot be surrendered directly to Catfe. You can surrender your cat to the BC SPCA, where the cat will undergo the full intake process described above and BC SPCA staff will determine whether the cat is suitable to be rehomed at Catfe. If the cat turns out not to be suitable for the Catfe environment, the cat will be rehomed from the BC SPCA facility. Please contact the BC SPCA Vancouver Branch at 604-879-7721 or vancouver@spca.bc.ca to make an appointment if you are interested in surrendering your cat.

What health and welfare protocols in place to care for cats at Catfe?

Catfe uses health and welfare protocols from the BC SPCA. Health protocols are in place for cat intake treatments including vaccinations and parasite control, permanent microchip identification, examination and surveillance for infectious disease, and sanitation. Welfare protocols follow the BC SPCA CatSense system and cover behavioural assessment, daily welfare monitoring, management of special behavioural needs, and adoption matching. The health and welfare of cats at Catfe is the top priority.

What happens if a cat is not doing well at Catfe?

Occasionally, a cat is sent to Catfe and simply does not thrive as expected. In these cases, cats are brought back to the BC SPCA for rehoming. The BC SPCA Vancouver Branch offers a number of different individual and group housing areas, staff who can address individual special needs, and a foster care program. If a cat develops a new medical problem while at Catfe, the cat receives immediate veterinary attention and treatment, which is fully covered by the BC SPCA.

Why are only 16 people at a time allowed in the cat lounge?

Cats are #1 at Catfe! Many cats become overwhelmed when a lot of people are going in and out of their housing area. For the comfort and enjoyment of both the cats and the human customers, it is necessary to limit the number of visitors at one time.

Why does Catfe charge an admission fee?

Because we allow such a limited number of visitors per hour in the cat lounge, we charge an admission fee in order to cover overhead costs and make sure the business is sustainable. The fee helps to cover the cost of rent and utilities and pay our staff, on top of all other costs associated with keeping a business functioning smoothly. Based on research of existing North American cat cafes, and because we limit the number of customers coming in, we know that we could not otherwise afford to stay in business long term.

I've fallen in love with one of your cats online and may want to adopt them! Do I need to make a reservation to come meet them?

If you are interested in adopting a specific cat, you do not need a reservation. Please email info@catfe.ca to arrange an appointment to come meet the cat.