Councilman Oliverio Wants Permanent City-Run Cat Café

San Jose’s first and only cat café closes up shop in another two weeks, ending a five-month pilot that resulted in dozens of cat adoptions.

Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio wants the city to build on that success by creating a permanent cat café to encourage cat adoptions for the local animal shelter. The proposal comes up on Tuesday’s City Council agenda.

The Dancing Cat on Julian Street started as a month-long pop-up shop, an experiment by Mary Rubin and Ann Chasson to promote adoptions and create a public gathering space for cat lovers.

For a cover charge, patrons could hang out in a living room-like lounge populated by a clowder of cats looking for a new home. There were workshops, storytimes and other community events. Feline-themed art decorated the bright, colorful space. People’s excitement for The Dancing Cat led proprietors to extend their lease on the converted liquor store for another several months.

Cat cafes, which originally started in Japan in the late ’90s, have become increasingly popular in the United States. The Cat Town Café opened in Oakland last fall, followed by similar spinoffs in San Francisco, San Diego and, this past May, San Jose.

Oliverio envisions a long-term, volunteer-staffed and city-sponsored version of The Dancing Cat as an extension of San Jose’s main Animal Care Services facility on Monterey Street or another public community center. If no other funds are available, he offered to use money from his District 6 office to pay for cat-related furniture and other amenities.

“The [café] would not only provide its community with a service that it would soon otherwise be without, but would also promote cat adoption,” he wrote in a memo, “leading to the provision of homes for animals that may otherwise have none.”

The Dancing Cat, located at 702 E. Julian St., will close Nov. 15. It's open Wednesday for adoptions by appointment only, from noon to 6pm Thursday and Sunday and noon to 9pm Friday through Saturday. For more information, go to www.thedancingcat.org.

In other cat-related news, Oliverio will host a cat video festival later this month.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for November 3, 2015:

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks Sal! The Dancing Cat has appreciated the 5 months of terrific support from all who have passed through our doors. We hope you have all enjoyed us as we have enjoyed you. Before we say our “last meow” we wish to find homes for all the cats in our care. Please do visit and bring cat loving friends with you too!

  2. Animal Care Services is a very well managed city organization. (Perhaps they should also charge a nominal admission fee at their digs on Monterey Highway.)

    Any additional revenue streams to save animals is a plus for all concerned.

    Good job Councilmember Oliverio!

    David S. Wall

    • “Animal Care Services” on Monterey highway? I think that’s a tire shop, for those who don’t know how to swerve.

  3. I was all set to rant when I read the headline. “Oliverio” is a trigger for me. But after reading this article, I have to grudgingly agree with him (good thing I’m sitting down!)

    The best way to control feral cats is with catch/neuter-spay/release. If a feral cat is removed from its location, other feral cats will move in. But if the cat(s) are fixed and put back, they are very territorial and will keep the others out.

    I worked at the Humane Society for several years, and I could see the results. Cats multiply like rabbits, only maybe faster. The Humane Society will fix a feral, give it shots for rabies, distemper, etc., and a flea treatment. Usually at no charge (but donations are encouraged).

    There are local volunteer orgs like Neighborhood Cats, and others that will help. If you find a feral cat in your yard, a relly big bag of dry food is only about $10 on sale at pet discount stores. It will last several months. If you have it in your heart to help control this problem, it often turns out that the outdoor cat will become quite friendly. And it will keep other cats from moving in.

    (FWIW, I never had a cat until a girlfriend gave me a kitten when I was about 25. I didn’t want it; I always had dogs. But it turned out to be an excellent pet. Cats are cool in their own way. They’re different than dogs, but they can be trained, and they are appreciative. They may not be for everyone. But if someone as ornery as me can come around, maybe someone who’s never had a cat can find out why so many folks like them. For one thing, they’re a lot of company — and you can leave them for a weekend, unlike a dog. And Mark Twain liked them, so they can’t be all bad!)

  4. Why not a city-sponsored Bum Bistro for the homeless? Let’s give these people who are so compassionate when its tax dollars being spent a chance to rub up against a few feral humans and find out if they’d like to pick one out and give it a home.

    • FINFAN

      Your concept of the “Bum Bistro”, while an idea “littered” with compassion, would not be as workable a solution as a “Cat Café”, for the simple reason that a cat can be trained to use a litter box but expecting that same level of hygiene and behavior at the “Bum Bistro” would undoubtedly result in disappointment.

      I believe that the best course of action was suggested by SMOKEY. He opined that the best way to deal with the problem of feral cats is “catch/neuter-spay/release”. It seems sensitive, compassionate, and fair that this same remedy be applied to both groups equally, those who frequent the “Café” and the anticipated patrons of your proposed “Bistro”.

      There may yet be another excellent use of tax payer dollars, as well. Rather than two separate businesses, a “Café” and a “Bistro”, why not take both of these exceptional ideas and merge them into a single business that caters to both types of clientele. The new business could be called “Cannabis and Cat-Nip”. ( medicinal, of course). The perfect location for such an “open 24 hours” business would be next to the railroad tracks and across from an Oldsmobile dealership.

      The article mentioned that “Cat Cafes” are popular in Japan. As an avid student of culture and diversity, I was wondering if these same sorts of cafes exist in Korea and mainland China as well? Perhaps during my next vacation trip to Asia, I will have to put that on the menu and make a point to check it out.

      • > Rather than two separate businesses, a “Café” and a “Bistro”, why not take both of these exceptional ideas and merge them into a single business that caters to both types of clientele. The new business could be called “Cannabis and Cat-Nip”. ( medicinal, of course).

        Got it! I’ll start working on the federal grant application this afternoon.

        I think the “diversity” aspect will make selling this a slam dunk.l

  5. I went there already, and I do wish they make it more, like an actual cafe and snack and food, real ones like Starbucks or french bakery, but with cats around and as much cats as possible, I think lots of people will actually come and enjoy the atmosphere and more people ill come and see the cats and adopt or just play with the cats. We need to make it like the Japanese cat cafe, more people will be interested. Just a suggestion :p

    http://time.com/2280/heres-an-inside-look-at-japans-best-cat-cafes/

    http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/02/22/a-guide-to-tokyos-best-cat-cafes/

  6. I went there already, and I do wish they make it more, like an actual cafe and snack and food, real ones like Starbucks or french bakery, but with cats around and as much cats as possible, I think lots of people will actually come and enjoy the atmosphere and more people ill come and see the cats and adopt or just play with the cats. We need to make it like the Japanese cat cafe, more people will be interested. Just a suggestion :p
    http://time.com/2280/heres-an-inside-look-at-japans-best-cat-cafes/
    http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/02/22/a-guide-to-tokyos-best-cat-cafes/

  7. I don’t know about this. I see a inter species discrimination lawsuit in the wind, unlike cats, dogs are sensitive to being left out. They are going to feel the snub and not be happy about this. Yes there are dog parks but this is like separate but equal totally unconstitutional in my opinion.

    Dogs will want to be included it is there right to be included and as tax payer’s they must be include. Yes dogs are tax payers cat are just free loaders. Dogs are licensed cats are not.

    Now lets talk about a Raccoon and Skunk cafe, sniff, sniff is that a strong cup of coffee I smell?

    Oh I know we are a Sanctuary City for non tax paying humans but just how far do you people think this should go.
    One day it’s cats and the next we will be letting in Elephants and we know what they represent.
    I say no to the elephant,s. this is a city of the donkeys by the donkey’s and for the donkey’s.
    Thought I was going to say something else don’t you?

    Let us knot be fooled by the appearances of these soft cuddly looking creatures they are well armed with sharp pointy weapons that can shred your lap or your couch in seconds. Some say they are always sizing you up for a quick kill ,
    at least until you run a can opener.

  8. Did you say “…creatures they are well armed with sharp pointy weapons that can shred your lap or your couch (you left out the “r” after the “c”) in seconds…they are always sizing you up for a quick kill” If that’s what you said, that’s not a cat. It’s my ex-wife and her attorney.

  9. Brute, my aging champion canine, appears to be in the process of transitioning into a cat. I don’t know why he’s doing this, although I expect it’s because he doesn’t get the attention he once did (before we brought home some adorable kittens). No longer will Brute fetch, obey, or even try to mount Krissy, his favorite neighborhood bitch — all things he used to do with great enthusiasm. Instead, after apparently working himself through a deep depression, he turned his attention to the kitties’ ball of string and toy mouse, and to grooming himself excessively. He doesn’t even respond to his name anymore, that is, unless you call him by the new name he seems to prefer, Cat. My neighbor joked that, as screwed up as things are these days, he expects Cat will soon make the cover of Cat Fancy magazine.

    Which brings me to my question: will the policies of the new cat cafe be inclusive enough to allow for a 72 pound trans-feline? Cat loves people and real kitties, so other than his ridiculous impression of a meow and his devastating impact on the average litter box, the cat cafe experience would seem to be a purr-fect fit.

  10. I have little doubt that the proprietors of the Cat Cafe would have policies that are both Jennerous and inclusive.

    Does anyone know if the litter boxes at the Cat Cafe are Unisex? If not, how old does a kitten-patron have to be before one can hold it up to check “underneath” for gender (or Jenner) so as to avoid allowing a cat into the wrong area and offending another “cat in the box”. Also, are there ramps in place for cats with mobility issues?

  11. I was looking for a particular Gary Larson cartoon (a dog and a woman looking out the window as the police take the cat into custody. Woman says to the dog, “Well, I suppose this is a dream come true for you.”)

    Couldn’t find it, but here are a bunch of others:

    http://tiny.cc/oojp5x

  12. A quick quiz:

    Question #1) What is toxoplasmosis and how is it spread?

    Question #2) What was the name of, and the title song from, Ted Nugent’s third studio album??

  13. I heard Sam on KLIV the other day. He said that he has no problem with a privately funded cat cafe, but he doesn’t want to spend government time and taxpayer money on it. A breakthrough–for the first time I agree with Sam.

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