Pop Culture

Meows on Melrose: Cats, Coffee, and Even Co-Working at Crumbs & Whiskers

Alright, alright, I know a good chunk of you are only here for the cat photos, and I promise there’s cuteness to rival the content on r/CatTaps in just a moment. But first, a bit of background…

You see, Crumbs & Whiskers founder Kanchan Singh reminds me a lot of myself—a young millennial woman who just loves cats. Full disclosure: When the PR lady said she wanted to introduce me to the founder at a recent Crumbs & Whiskers event, I was expecting, for some reason, to meet a twentysomething hotshot white guy entrepreneur who started the cat café as the charitable arm of his tech startup, or even someone more like the lovely senior ladies who run the no-kill cat shelter near my office. Needless to say, I was very wrong.

In late 2014, Singh was living the “dream” with a corporate consulting job and a cushy paycheck that let her shop, party, and travel all she wanted. But, as any of us who have been fortunate to live that plush capitalist lifestyle know, it gets a bit tiresome and empty after a while knowing that you’re not really working for social good—and sometimes working actively against it. Singh’s answer to this was to travel to Thailand and volunteer at the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai. For her 24th birthday, some friends took her to Catmosphere, Chiang Mai’s cat café, where the idea for Crumbs & Whiskers was born.

Singh came back to the States, quit her job, and took a leap of faith by starting her own business despite the odds. And the odds were not in her favor—according to a 2017 Forbes article:

In 2014, cat cafés were virtually non-existent in the United States. And starting a business is rare for people as young as Singh. The share of people under 30 who own a business has actually fallen by 65% since the 1980s and is now at a quarter-century low, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Roughly one third of 25-to-34-year-old Americans told researchers that fear of failure was a barrier to starting a company—a sentiment slightly higher among women.

Kickstarter turned out to be an excellent solution for a young entrepreneur with a trendy idea, and Singh raised nearly $36,000 on the platform to open D.C.’s first cat café. Today, Crumbs & Whiskers has expanded to Los Angeles, where I had the pleasure of meeting several of the cat café’s adorable—and temporary—residents. That’s right, all of the cats at Crumbs & Whiskers are available for adoption, and the Melrose location works with Stray Cat Alliance, a local nonprofit dedicated to saving animals in need by finding them permanent homes and providing the resources for successful companionship.

If you’ve ever volunteered at an animal shelter, it’s likely that you’ve been tasked with “socializing the cats and kittens.” Crumbs & Whiskers is a lot like that—guests come in during their reserved times to snuggle and play with the cats, and the animals are all free to mingle or hide as they please. Food and drinks are delivered directly to guests from a nearby partner café. You can even set up shop all day with their “Co-working with Cats” option!

And now, as promised, here’s a shit ton of cat photos:

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