D.C.’s Cozy Cat Haven | The American Word

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D.C.’s Cozy Cat Haven

Experience a Live Neko Atsume at “Crumbs and Whiskers”

Kaila Macias | 3/15/16 2:33pm
| Updated 3/15/16 2:33pm

Julienne DeVita /
American Word Magazine

Cat cafes, a concept that started in Japan, have begun popping up across the United States. D.C.’s very own cat cafe, Crumbs and Whiskers, opened last summer and has been popular ever since. It’s easy to see why—cats, coffee and a cozy environment are a winning combination.

After one visit, you’ll be in love and likely jealous of the lucky humans that get to work there. Jen Guo has been working at the cafe for about seven months after hearing about Crumbs and Whiskers from her friends. Prior to working at the cafe, her only experience was cat sitting, but since then she’s become a cat expert, helping even the shyest of cats feel welcome and find homes. A cat named Enzo was one of Guo’s favorites.

“He was the very first cat that I actually socialized to the cafe,” Guo said. “When he first got here, he was scared and would hide in the basement, but I was able to get him confident enough to come up where he would sleep up on the shelf, but if he ever felt comfortable with a customer sitting there he would come down from the shelf and get into their lap.”

When working in such close contact with cats, it’s hard not to form an emotional bond with some of them. Jiff, who’s currently in a foster home, became so close with Guo that he would greet her every morning when she came in.

“So whenever I come in [for] the morning, Jiff hears my keys [because] it has a little bell on it,” Guo said. “He recognizes my bell from like if I’m down the street; he can hear it and I can see him at the window chirping at me.”

But working at the cat cafe isn’t all fun and games. Guo explained that the most surprising part of working in a cat cafe is the amount of cleaning: “I understand there’s 20 cats but holy crap! I didn’t realize cats could make such a mess!” She says it’s all worth it though, as it helps make the cafe more hospitable to those with cat allergies.

“I do have a lot of people who come in and go ‘I would have never known there were 20 cats in here,’” Guo said. “We do try our best with air filters to help with the dander issue.” As far as other tips for potential visitors with cat allergies, she suggests “tak[ing] some allergy medicine beforehand, bring some tissues if you’re on the sneezy side and be ready to experience a lot of cat love.”

In addition to coffee and cat cuddles, Crumbs and Whiskers offers events like Cat Yoga and cat movie nights. You can even rent out their top floor for parties, as long as you don’t mind extra furry guests.

“We recently had a party up here. I think it was a seven-year-old’s birthday party,” Guo mentioned. “It was so sweet… she asked her guests instead of bringing her a present to bring a donation for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation. So at the end of the party she had a big envelope that we handed to a volunteer from the foundation.”

One thing Guo would like visitors to know is that the cats at Crumbs and Whiskers are happy, healthy and well-loved.

Although some guests express concern for the cats, Guo explained “the alternative to this is cats in cages.” Guo also insists that the structure of the cafe leads to more adoptions.

“A lot of people come in who don’t expect to adopt end of leaving adopting a cat,” she said. All the cats at Crumbs and Whiskers are up for adoption, so if you’re looking for a new family member, or just need a couple hours of cat time, you should stop by. The animals are from the Washington Humane Society via Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation. During the weekdays they offer a $10 entrance fee for students (as opposed to $15) for 75 minutes. If you can’t make it there, or just want to scope out some cute cats, check out their Instagram, @crumbs_whiskers, and Snapchat, CrumbsWhiskers.