Update: Gatos y Galletas closed in November 2016.
There’s a new cafe in town, unlike any other.
Meet Gatos y Galletas, the only restaurant in Albuquerque where you can sip your coffee surrounded by cats.
Cat cafes are widespread in Japan, but a brand-new concept in the United States. According to Gatos y Galletas’ website, the first US cat cafe opened in Oakland CA in 2014, and about a dozen now exist across the country. Thanks, GyG, for setting us up on the early end of this trend!
Gatos y Galletas is housed in an adorable old house on Central in East Downtown, which used to be the location of A&B’s Lunch Box – a nice place I’m sorry we had to lose to get our cat cafe. The white gate in front functions as a cat airlock, similar to the double-doored entryways on an aviary or butterfly house. A sign on the gate asks that you only open it after making sure the “cat side” door is closed.
That’s how Gatos y Galletas can stay within the health code. Partitioned like a McDLT, they keep the cat side cat and the food side food. Customers order on the “food side,” paying a $3 upcharge per person if they’d like to access the “cat side.” After ordering, they can hang out on the cat side and their food will be brought to them, entirely on disposable dishware.
We each ordered a coffee drink, signed a waiver, and then hightailed it to the cat side. (I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to make any cat puns, and that one was totally an accident, I promise.) The cat side is lovely, with buttery yellow walls, comfy couches, tables and chairs, cat tubes and shelves and scratchers, and CATS!
Our drinks were delivered promptly, and they were good – my iced mocha was very chocolaty – but it was the cats that held our attention. We have two of our own, but they are old and slow; playtime lasts about thirty seconds and then they need a nap. These cats were all about a year old, every one of them some form of grey except for Eowyn, an all-black beauty. The cats are being fostered for FAT Katz, an Albuquerque no-kill cat rescue, and are available for adoption.
There were eight cats living at Gatos y Galletas when we visited, and they seemed to get along with each other splendidly. There was also a staff member in the room with us the whole time, introducing us to the cats, telling us a bit about them, and blowing catnip bubbles for them to chase. She told us Betty had a particular little orange ball she liked to fetch, and indeed if you tossed it the rumpled little tabby would run after it, pick it up in her teeth (sometimes with an adorable paw assist to get a firm grip), bring it back, and drop it at your feet. She was more consistent at the game than any dog I’ve played with. (Keep in mind, though, I am a cat person.)
The atmosphere was very relaxed. A few other couples came and went while we did a crossword puzzle. Alas, the well socialized cats at Gatos y Galletas did not respond as our own cats do, and no one came to sit on our paper. We blew some bubbles for the cats and threw the ball for Betty and were visited by curious little friends who sniffed at our pants and submitted to pets and ran around and looked adorable. I was particularly taken with Ringo, a semi-longhair; Arne particularly enjoyed Eowyn. And Betty. And Florence. And John. And Eleanor. And Chester. Arne really loves cats.
After about ninety minutes, we decided it was probably time to go. We didn’t try any food, but there was a display of adorable cat-face iced sugar cookies, rugelach, and a variety of vegan cookies and pastries, as well as a lunch menu with offerings like Buffalo cauliflower and fried rice with leafy greens. The spicy butternut squash curry smelled good. All the offerings are vegetarian, and many (maybe most) are vegan. Vegan and local milk offerings are also available for drinks.
If you love cats, you should definitely visit Gatos y Galletas.