People and Places

Coffee Cat — Hypoallergenic kitties purrfect with latte

“Cats and coffee are my biggest addictions,” says Michael Lebrun, owner of the Siberian Cat Café in Old Chelsea, Quebec.

(Above: Cometa Photo)

Opened in July 2015, this cat café offers patrons the opportunity to sip a latte and relax with a clowder of Siberian cats.

Unique, bright, and cozy, the café is separated into three sections. Out back, there’s a quiet patio. Inside, you’ll find a cat-free zone with all the fixings for a tasty coffee and a selection of locally baked goodies and grilled cheese sandwiches. But the real magic happens in the “cat room,” where seven Siberian kitties stroll, stretch, play, and purr on their jungle gym, with tables and comfy seating for patrons seamlessly mixed in.

And while it’s a fun, often peaceful place to hang out, the café also provides a sanctuary for animal lovers with allergies.

Three Siberian kitties waiting for guests in the cat room. Photo: Cometa Photo

About five years ago, Lebrun, who is allergic to cats, discovered that the Siberian cat is hypoallergenic. “Some people react a bit, but others feel nothing.”

Lebrun gets new clients almost every week, looking to see if they will react to the Siberian breed. To date, the café has inspired 10 customers to adopt Siberian cats from their breeder in Joliette, Quebec (with three additional adoptions currently in the works). “Part of our mission is to serve coffee, but it’s also to help people discover the Siberian.”

Owner Michael Lebrun with feline friend. Photo: Cometa Photo

Fluffy and stout, the Siberian is generally a friendly breed, happy to socialize with whomever is around. And while they’re easy to cuddle, Lebrun still asks patrons not to pick up the cats. With a few hundred people coming through each weekend, it’s best to let the cats come to you (petting is still very much encouraged).

When the three males and four females (all neutered) need a break, they can escape through a covert kitty door to the finished basement, where fresh water, dry food, and litter boxes await.

The cat-free zone of the cafe. Photo: Cometa Photo

Lebrun is already looking to the café’s future with hopes to franchise the business. He’s currently in talks for possible locations in both Ottawa and Saguenay. “We’re building an empire of cat cafés.”

Siberian Cat Café, 205, ch. Old Chelsea, Chelsea