CLOSED: TOT - The Cat Cafe (Toronto)

TOT The Cat Cafe Toronto

FINALLY! Toronto’s first cat café has successfully opened despite the red tape and hesitant landlords across the city. Having contributed to a couple failed crowd sourcing start-ups, the thought of a feline friendly café was but a distant dream. So, when TOT quietly opened on College Street, steps from the lively Kensington Market district, visiting the establishment instantly became my New Year’s goal.

After waiting so long, Toronto’s first cat café is … better than nothing, but definitely not as heavenly as I imagined. Firstly, the cats are segregated into a room beside the dining area, that you’re allowed to bring drinks into, but feels more like visiting a fancier adoption chamber than café.

During our morning visit, the three kittens were still sleeping and one of the house rules is to not wake the animals. 

Watching them sleep and not being able to play with them is excruciatingly difficult, it’s like dangling a lollipop in front of a kid. The only benefit of arriving early is there’s virtually no wait and we were able to stay in the room for double the allotted 20 minutes.

However, when the cats finally awoke, it was quite fun watching them stretch, eat and play. Ranging from 2 to 6 months, they are awfully cute and surprisingly patient with being petted by multiple strangers.  

TOT’s menu offers a selection of drinks ranging from $2 for a bottle of water to $5.15 for a large specialty drink. The Calico macchiato ($4.35 for a small) I ordered had a decent shot of espresso capped with creamy foam and a sweet drizzle of caramel. After purchasing a drink my name was added to a clipboard awaiting a call to enter the room.   

There was also a selection of sweets (cheesecake, butter tarts and cookies), fruit cups, yoghurt, veggies and dip, premade sandwiches and soup. Everything looked fine but no different from what you’d find in a cafeteria.

I really want TOT to do well… in fact, I NEED the place to succeed. So, to the owner: please do something to increase your bill totals so the business thrives (and opens more locations)! You have to make the food appealing so the café becomes a place where people stay and eat.

Given the establishment’s proximity to Kensington Market, use that to your advantage! Offer a couple of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky desserts, make toasted bagels using the wood fired ones from Nu Bagel and offer savoury easy to heat options like beef patties. There doesn’t seem to be a kitchen, could a catering service with a local restaurant work for more substantial plates during peak hours?  

Additionally, TOT definitely needs more cats, I dream about being surrounded by cats… not surrounding a cat with other people. To be fair, an employee explained they normally have five (still not sufficient) but since some were adopted they hadn’t been replaced. Which brings me to the best part of the café … you can adopt the cats!

Coming from the Toronto Humane Society, these cute balls of fur are in need of a loving home. What a great opportunity to spend time with them to access their temperament; if you have children they can even come along to get acquainted with the cat.

Although, TOT didn’t live up to my dreams, I nonetheless enjoyed the visit. Given I can’t have a cat at home, playing with one elsewhere is the next best thing. Unfortunately, bringing home a kitten would be one take-out item my husband wouldn’t be pleased with.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 298 College Street

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