BELLINGHAM, Wash. — If you've ever dreamed of a place where you can hang out with cats to your heart's content, dream no more. Welcome to Neko — a Bellingham cat cafe.
"Customers, when they come in, they always say, 'oh my gosh, this must be the best job ever'. And I just could not agree more," says owner Caitlin Unsell.
Caitlin and her partner Cory were inspired by the cat cafes of Japan and Vietnam during the three years they lived abroad. When they returned to the United States, they decided to bring the concept to Seattle and Bellingham.
"It was just like an instant hit," Caitlin says. "Because the kitties are just so freaking cute and fun. We had a line out the door from the very beginning because everyone wants to hang out with cats."
When you go to Neko, walk-ins are welcome, but online reservations are recommended. These are popular cats! You can book a 45 minute slot, or an extended three hour work and study session - and enjoy a beverage while you're at it.
"We try to keep everything as cat themed as possible," Caitlin says. "So we have some fun, cat-themed beers."
You might be wondering - where do these little guys come from? And where do they live? Great questions.
"All of our kitties are from Whatcom Humane Society here," Caitlin explains. "We essentially act as a foster home for them. So, sometimes they're here for a month or two. And sometimes our shyer cats might be here for six months or a year."
And they leave Neko because people adopt them.
"You can come in and hang out," Caitlin says. "And then if you fall in love, then you can apply for the kitty."
Caitlin says they've adopted out more than two-hundred cats. But even if you don't find that special someone, chances are, you'll still leave charmed.
"It's the sweetest thing to just watch them form connections with cats," Caitlin says. "It's a great way to like turn a bad day around. And people always leave with a smile on their face."