Washington, D.C.’s first cat café opened in Georgetown with over 300 guests on June 20. Scribbled on a chalkboard by the entrance, guests can spot the must-know house rules: sign the waiver, be gentle with the cats, no flash photography, keep lids on cups, never wake a sleeping cat and – most importantly – stay awesome. Quirky prints and merchandise with messages like, “The time is meow!” and “Good vibes only” adorn the walls.

Save for a few hiccups — a few food orders were lost, some cats had a hissy fit — owner Kanchan Singh said the opening went smoothly.

“I love watching people just petting cats and laughing, and I’m seeing a lot of that, so that makes me really happy,” she said.

Singh found her inspiration to open a cat café in D.C. when she traveled to Thailand for her 24th birthday. In Chiang Mai, she spent an hour at a café, petting cats, teasing them with laser pointers and making new friends. In love with the concept, she decided to share her experience with others by taking it home with her.

News of Singh creating the café in D.C. broke in November 2014, and with help from her recent Kickstarter campaign, she was able to raise enough funds to make her dream a reality only a few months later. Her goal for the campaign was $15,000, but she was able to raise over $36,000, thanks to more than 700 backers.

Crumbs & Whiskers, though, isn’t so much of a cat café as it is a cat lounge.

Singh said, “This is for us not a real café in the sense that we don’t make our own food and we don’t store food. I mean, we’re trying to create a café experience by having menus here and doing deliveries between two stores, but you know, you really felt like a café experience in Thailand.”

The food you can find in Crumbs & Whiskers comes from local eatery, Georgetown Bites. You can order cappuccinos, iced coffee, milkshakes and cookies. For those looking for a simply sweet concoction, the café also offers smoothies like Cats on the Beach, made out of bananas, mangos, mixed berries, honey and lemon.

food as opposed to making food in-house because of how complicated and financially consuming the process was to get the correct permits to do so. Also, the two-floor row house that the café is located in would have been restricted to only one floor with cats with the kitchen on the upper level.

“I just prefer to keep this about more the cats and less the food,” she said.

From Porkie to Furball, Crumbs & Whiskers currently houses 20 cats, each vetted and vaccinated by the animal welfare agency the Washington Humane Society. For those worried if the furry babies are being taken advantage of, Singh assures that her best intention is for the cats to be well taken care of and eventually adopted.

In fact, any guests who can’t help but fall in love with the doe-eyed Olivia or the sleepy Priya are easily able to take them home by going on the website, filling out their questionnaire, scheduling a counseling appointment and – boom – the cat’s available for pickup.

Singh said, “One of my biggest, biggest, biggest goals with this place is cat adoptions, and that hasn’t happened yet, but we’ve had some people show interest in cats and start to submit online questionnaires, so I feel like it’s on the horizon, and I’m really excited for that.”

While missing her cat at home, Kelly Byrnes is able to come to Crumbs & Whiskers to feel the longed-for feline love.
& Whiskers, Kelly Byrnes, a customer and self-proclaimed “huge cat person,” said that the café “was like heaven for me.”

“I think it’s just a good, fun day to hang out and just play with cats because I’m here for the summer, so I don’t live here, so I miss my cat, and it’s good to just – I don’t know – mingle with them,” said Byrnes.

While scratching the neck of one of the resident cats, Byrnes said, “I would definitely recommend it to other cat people for sure, but even if you’re just a general animal lover, why not come?”

Want to know what kind of music you can find at Crumbs & Whiskers? Check out the Spotify playlist above, made during a trip to the café.

Now that Singh’s dream of making Crumbs & Whiskers a reality is finally complete, she describes her goals as “very unexciting.”

“They’re more like making things run smoothly. I’m not at the point where things are running smoothly yet,” said Singh.

If Crumbs & Whiskers continues its success, though, Singh said that she is open to the aspect of expanding to a second location. So, for those who aren’t able to make the trek to Georgetown every day of the week, a second Crumbs & Whiskers may be in the future.

To take a closer look at the menu or to make your own reservation, head on over to the Crumbs & Whiskers website here. To visit the location, take a journey to 3211 O Street NW.

Below, you can see some of the photos taken at the opening of Crumbs & Whiskers. To see all of the photos, go here.

Kanchan Singh was inspired to open a cat café in Washington, D.C. after stepping foot in one in Thailand.

D.C. locals Allison Lyzenga and Megan Fritz enjoyed the first day of Crumbs & Whisker's opening.

Lauren Olson and Jonathan Southgate enjoyed playing with one of the more shy cats, coaxing it out of a box with a toy. 

About Michelle Goldchain

Michelle is a photojournalist who loves to live life by never sitting still. You can find her in art galleries in Dupont Circle, ethnic restaurants in Adams Morgan and comedy clubs in Arlington. In her spare time, when she's not typing away at a computer screen, she's probably listening to moody electronic music, watching cat videos or doodling.
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