Lonely Planet Writer

Take yoga with feline friends at Santa Barbara's first ever cat café

Six months ago, Santa Barbara in California welcomed its first ever dedicated cat café, a space where animal lovers could enjoy tea, coffee, smoothies, and açai bowls, all while socialising with shelter cats from the region. If that wasn’t enough, now the establishment has introduced a unique new experience that allows visitors to take yoga classes with cats.

Cat Therapy in Santa Barbara recently introduced cat yoga sessions.
Cat Therapy in Santa Barbara recently introduced cat yoga sessions. Image by Visit Santa Barbara

Called Cat Therapy, the café was set up with a view to getting as many cats as possible out of shelters by providing a place where the animals can interact with visitors that book in for play sessions. All of the cats that guests interact with during their time there are adoptable and housed at the premises, and oftentimes, a session can result in new homings. Booking is required for the 75-minute cat interaction sessions, which cost $10 and run from 11am to 6.30pm Wednesday to Sunday. Introduced most recently, the cat yoga sessions run every Wednesday at 7pm and every Sunday at 9am, and cost $25, and visitors can enjoy 60 minutes of gentle yoga and deep stretching followed by 30 minutes of “cat cuddles”. Yoga mats are provided and the experience is available to anyone aged 13 years and older.

The café was set up with a view to getting as many cats as possible out of shelters.
The café was set up with a view to getting as many cats as possible out of shelters. Image by Visit Santa Barbara

“Even though our local organizations are amazing at their job, most shelters lack a proper place for people to get to know their cats, and a cage isn’t the best way for an animal’s true personality to shine. Our business provides a solution for this by placing cats in a home-like environment, where you can feel the things you seek when spending time with a pet – love, happiness, and comfort. If you aren’t looking to adopt, just by petting them and spending time with them you are helping get our kitties socialised and ready for the day they get adopted. Love and tenderness has the power to change these kitties’ world,” Cat Therapy said, and the café works with five local shelters in an effort to make this happen.

As well as running yoga classes, visitors can book in for 75-minute sessions to socialise with the cats.
As well as running yoga classes, visitors can book in for 75-minute sessions to socialise with the cats. Image by Visit Santa Barbara

While no food is made or stored in the house, Cat Therapy offers a menu provided courtesy of Brazil Arts Café. Upon checking in for a reservation, guests can place their orders and have it brought to them. The menu includes French press coffee, chai lattes, hot chocolate, ginger lemonade, organic smoothies and fresh juices, while different acai bowls are also available with toppings such as guarana, honey, granola, hemp seeds, mango, toasted coconut, spinach and kiwi. Cat Therapy also has a gift shop where cat-themed jewellery is available as well as cat toys and gift cards for play sessions.

More information is available at the official Cat Therapy website.