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How City Moms Get Pets for Their Kids

On a cold but sunny early Spring afternoon, the F train roared into the East Broadway station, carrying two Brooklyn moms and their 3-year-old girls, all ready for a cat-tastic adventure.

We were on our way to the Meow Parlour, New York City's only cat café, a place where you can sip coffee, pet animals and get high on catnip (just kidding about that last part).

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After leading the girls up the many flights of subway stairs, we emerged out onto the street on the Lower East Side. We passed businesses with names written in Chinese on the awnings, finally spotted a sleek but welcoming café — the Meow Parlour Patisserie — the first stop on our field trip. Christina Ha, a culinary school graduate and self-professed cat lady, combined her loves of baking and cats to open the Meow Parlour with fellow cat lover Emilie Legrand.

At the Meow Parlour, the food offerings are housed next door at a separate address, though you can "order in" once you're settled at the cat lounge. Our girls marveled at the colorful display of cat-themed macarons, both deciding on the "party kitty" flavor, while mom friend Amy and I sipped strong coffee.

In a city where many apartment buildings have no pet rules, a cat café seems like the perfect opportunity to get your cuddle on without the obligations of pet ownership.

At 4, properly caffeinated and ready to do some heavy petting, we headed next door for toddler hour. There we were asked to sign a waiver, acknowledging the house rules (no pulling tails, no waking sleeping cats). Before we could get their shoes off and sanitize their hands, our girls were off and running into the lounge to find some feline friends. I'd been imagining a funky room with old couches covered in cat hair, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the space was clean and bright and with enough room to swing a cat (though presumably that would also be against the rules).

In a city where many apartment buildings have no pet rules, a cat café seems like the perfect opportunity to get your cuddle on without the obligations of pet ownership. The concept of a cat café started in the '90s in Asia, where small apartments and no-pet policies led people to create spots where folks could hang out with feline friends. The girls enjoyed following "Amber" and "Ricardo" around, trying to engage them with cat toys and marveling as they leapt from the floor onto the high shelves. We looked in on some of the residents taking cat naps inside hexagon-shaped end tables with glass tops. There were other activities for kids, including paper and magic markers and a whole bunch of cat-themed kids' books (including our favorite, Pete the Cat).

It was a nice change of pace from the usual kid-themed activities we attend. While bouncy houses, and toddler gyms with zip-lines and climbing structures, are designed to give preschoolers an adrenaline rush, the cat café was a fun yet calming place to spend an afternoon.

It was a nice change of pace from the usual kid-themed activities we attend.

As toddler time came to a close, we took a few last pictures and said goodbye to our fury friends. While it seemed odd to us that you would come here without a kid, there was a huge group of adults waiting to make their way in after us. I guess it makes sense—while the boroughs are littered with dog parks, until now there's been no place for sly, somewhat anti-social cat people to convene.

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While all of the cats at Meow Parlour are adoptable, I was happy to leave the kitty litter cleaning to someone else and make our way back to Brooklyn, knowing that our girls had a purrfectly unique New York day.

Photo by Ronnie Koenig

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