Cat Town's Cat Zone and adjacent RAWR Coffee Bar in Oakland is a super fun outing for a feline-loving child. Because the website suggests making reservations, and it has a cafe and acts as sort of an animal shelter, I thought a post about exactly What Is Cat Town? might be useful; it's certainly not a traditional attraction.
Located in Oakland's Auto Row area, a block from the Sprouts Grocery, Cat Town was created to facilitate cat adoption. It is a very clean indoor cat play area, housing around 20 cats at a time, where the public is welcome to visit. An attached cafe sells fancy coffee and pastries, and a fee for admission raises money to support care for the cats.
It is surprisingly easy to park on Auto Row. I arrived there twice in one day and got Rock Star Parking both times.
Why did I drive to Cat Town twice in one day? I did not make reservations, despite the suggestion on the website. I arrived with my daughter and her friend at 11:10 am, and due to the cat play area being at capacity with visitors, we were invited to take a noon time slot. Waiting for 50 minutes for the 12 pm hour to begin with two 8-year olds was not a viable option, despite the attached cafe and vast quantities of cat-themed merchandise to browse.
From the ordering part of the Rawr Cafe, you can peep through the observation window to the cat zone visitation area. We were charmed enough by the set up that we decided to return to Cat Town with reservations to see the 17 cats that were tallied on the sign at the front desk.
By 2pm, the entire population of cats was asleep, and the posted rules of play at Cat Town's Cat Zone include no picking up the cats at all and no touching cats who are sleeping.
What the kids thought about Cat Town
Some patrons seemed content to sit with their coffee or knitting and not interact with the cats. My girls concluded that it's a pretty good cafe with a fun benefit that you might see a cat walk by, but that overall it was not as satisfying as going to a house with cats where you can pick them up, whether or not they are asleep. They said it was boring and they didn't need to go again, unless it was maybe first thing in the morning and more cats were awake. However, I believe that the no-picking-up rule is pretty limiting. (These cats are not going to come sit on your lap, so it like a strip club with a no touching rule.)
I did go back in the morning in the name of research and validated that the cats are much more lively at 10 am when Cat Town opens. Cats walked around, played with toys, and explored the space, which is filled with creative playhouse-sized faux local-themed buildings for the cats to chillax in, including a little taco truck.
The cats are all available for adoption, so the hope is that you'll fall in love and take one home. A Wall of Fame-style bulletin board shows all the cats that have been recently adopted.
Admission Price for Cat Town's Cat Zone
It's $10 per person and reservations are strongly recommended. I believe this price is prohibitive to a parent with multiple children. Though I would not encourage a parent and two kids to spend $30 on this activity just for kicks, then again, it is a donation to a cause my family is personally attached to, so if you feel strongly about cats and are happy to donate, then perhaps it's a fit.
[See also how to foster kitties in the East Bay.]
Other logistics to plan your visit
Cat Town strives to maintain a really calm atmosphere. Kids are allowed, however, at least one adult needs to be present for each two children (12 and under).
Treats for the kitties are for sale at RAWR cafe for $1 each.
Pretty much. 510Families.com donated $15 and bought three hot chocolates and a huge, delicious gourmet chocolate chip cookie that was actually worth the drive, parking, and cost of admission.
Cat Town is located at 2869 Broadway, Oakland and was the first Cat Cafe in the U.S.