Cat cafes lure me like a feather toy. Or a good catnip toy. I visit Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, DC May. If you are an ailurophile (vocabulary word check time)*, then you will love this cat cafe. It is located in a two-story brick townhouse at 3211 O Street NW in Georgetown. I have eagerly anticipated my visit since I was given a gift certificate from my daughter’s friend Kelly. (I hosted her weekend bachelorette party at my place.) A 70-minute visit costs $22.
Crumbs & Whiskers limits its visitors so as not to overwhelm the cats. My daughter Claire and I chose to celebrate Mother’s Day together at Crumbs & Whiskers. Since this is the Saturday before Mother’s Day, every time slot is sold out. I book our 70-minute visit around lunchtime. I arrive early but I can’t go into the building. The guide tells me to line up on the sidewalk with my time group. We have to sign waivers. Then she explains the rules. Most importantly, do not pick up a cat. You must let the cat come over and choose to sit in your lap.
Interior of Cafe
Entering the building, I am amazed at this cheerful cat-friendly abode. One wall is painted in black enamel. Big white cap letters proclaims Cats & Coffee Please. (Was any combination more exquisite? No.) Crumbs & Whiskers sweatshirts and cat ears headbands hang on the walls.
The tile floor is squeaky clean. There are big white furry pillows on the floor. This is where felines and their human friends can lounge. My instinct to knead the fur is strong. There are pale pink pillows where the little cat emperors reign on their mini thrones.
At the front desk we can order beverages. The sign on the walls reminds us how to behave.
Cat Cafe House Rules
Don’t Feed The Cats.
Don’t Wake The Cats.
Cats rule here.
A comfy window seat is lined with pillows so cats can people-watch. Feather toys are everywhere waiting to be whirled in the air. Signs on the wall playfully mock the cat lovers among us:
Curious about the second floor, we climb slowly up the steps. One white cat stands guard on a step. She watches us guardedly. Arriving at the top floor, we see a large floor pillow. It’s literally covered in five cats. They are posed in every form of relaxation. The three tabbies look very relaxed. I am pretty sure that I audibly sigh with satisfaction.
The second floor dormitory is lined with multiple floor pillows. Everyone (cats and humans) can scatter to find their own space. In addition, the cats like to climb up on the window ledge to monitor us. A starry night light sculpture outlines the face of a cat on the wall. I particularly like this photo of a cat on the ledge. I call it Starry Starry Night Cat.
Eager to make friends, I act like a puppy with too much energy. I jump from one furry pillow seat to another. I wave a feather toy. Playing with the cats is the best way to enter their world. All it takes is one feather toy to get them jumping in the air and tumbling over each other. It is hilarious to watch the Cat Aerial Circus.
The cats remind me so much of street cats that I discover on my trips abroad. In particular, the cats on the island of Madeira in Portugal were so friendly. And I know from volunteering at an animal shelter in Mexico how cats need physical affection.
At Crumbs & Whiskers, the cats wear different colored collars. A pink collar is a warning. This cat might swipe at you with his claw. Use caution. I learn this lesson early when I try to pet a cat on her back. It startles her. She swats me with her paw.
Too soon our visit ends. I am so impressed with the staff who clearly love working with the cats. And I am delighted to learn that over 600 cats from high-kill shelters have found their “fur ever” homes as a result of being adopted at the DC cat cafe. (There is also a Crumbs & Whiskers operating in Los Angeles.) I also completely support Crumbs & Whiskers’ mission to help every homeless cat find his home and human(s).
Sadly, Crumbs & Whiskers had to close its doors due to the pandemic. They are trying to pay their employeees and the rent so they can safely reopen. You can contribute to their COVID fund.
Kitten Cafe History
Crumbs & Whiskers started as Kickstarter project in 2015. It was Kanchan Singh’s dream to create a space that looks like a coffee shop but with adoptable cats. She believes that cats shouldn’t live in cages. And cat lovers shouldn’t miss out on the joy of cats. There were 705 backers who pledged $35,881 to help bring this project to life. The first cat cafe in DC was a huge success. The Kitten Lounge on M St. in Georgetown followed. It was a pop-up.
Crumbs & Whiskers partners with rescues who save cats at risk of euthanasia in high kill shelters and cats facing homelessness on the streets. The cat cafe houses them. They then care for the cats and help to get them adopted.
Its DC partner, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, rescues cats facing euthanasia in overcrowded shelters and places them for adoption in loving homes.
Its LA partner, Stray Cat Alliance,is an organization dedicated to saving animals in need by finding them permanent homes and providing the resources for successful companionship.
Total cats adopted: 1,063
Total cats saved from euthanasia: 2,301
Amount donated to charity: $25.5K
*a cat fancier, a lover of cats