Originally aired on The Menu episode 152, 12 September 2014. Full episode here.
INTRO: A couple months ago, we covered the opening of London’s first cat café. This trend continues to boom around the world, and for the most part, they are wonderful places. The cats get along with one another and people have something to talk about. It’s all very charming. But in Montreal, a duel of cat cafés has turned into a catfight. Steven Bodzin reports.
AMBI: DULUTH STREET
EDITOR: FEEL FREE TO ADD IN SOUND EFFECTS OF POWER TOOLS, RECORDED INDOORS, SENT AS “AMBI1 MIXIN”
NARR1: I’m standing on a quiet street in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal. The storefront in front of me has paper over the windows. I can hear power tools inside. Workers labor to finish construction. The shop windows say “Café Chat L’Heureux,” which means “Happy Cat Café.”
ACT1: I am Clément Marty, owner of Cafe Chat L’Heureux, the cat café in Montreal. It’s a project I be gan in last January. I lun a crowdfunding campaign, when I raise over $45,000 to begin this project, was the first project in North America. Now we work here at the space at ah, 172 Duluth East, our address. We work since three month, and normally our opening is in ah, three weeks.
NARR2: Clément has been working for months on this cafe, and has attracted a lot of local media attention. That has brought people hoping to have a coffee with a cat.
EDITOR: PLEASE BOOST GAIN ON FIRST SECTION OF THIS, WITH THE GIRLS
ACT2 (group of young women arrives): Is there a line? Can we go in? // CLÉMENT: It’s not open yet. Normally we open in 3 weeks. // GIRLS: OH! Awwww. Oh really? I thought it said, on like, on line that it was opened. // CLÉMENT: Ah no, no, we announce this week it normally the opening // GIRLS: OH! Ok cool. Awwww. // CLÉMENT: Three weeks, it’s open. For sure. // GIRL: OK, cool, Thank you. We’ll be here. // CLÉMENT: Here we go. Thank you. // ME: A lot of people want to go! // CLÉMENT: Ahhhh, yah. A lot of people follow us since the beginning of the project. We are more than 25,000 people on our Facebook page. A lot people participate in our crowdfunding campaign. One thousand two hundred people have contributed, so I have one thousand two hundred coostomer who have buy a coffee at Café Chat Heureux.
DULUTH STREET AMBI1 DOWN & OUT
NARR3: But Clément isn’t telling me the whole story. He also didn’t tell the whole story to the two groups of charming young women who came up to the shop while we were talking.
AMBI2 CAFE DES CHATS UP & UNDER.
PLEASE PLAY NADINE ASKING FOR A REFILL OF CROISSANTS AND CHOCOLATINES, AMBI3, BOOSTED UP, THEN FADE THAT OUT AND LEAVE JUST CAFE AMBI2
ACT3: My name is Nadine Spencer and we are at the Cafe de Chats, cat cafe Montreal on Saint Denis, 3435 Saint Denis.
NARR4: This is the Café des Chats. It opened at the beginning of September, which is probably why those young women thought they had heard about a new cat café. They had. And this is just a few blocks from Café Chat L’Heureux. But this place makes some people snarl. Remember those 25 thousand fans on Facebook? Some of them say Café des Chats took advantage of hard-earned media buzz around the Café Chat L’Heureux. Some plan to boycott this place. Nadine says it’s not like that.
ACT4: Our process started about a year ago. We registered just after xmas. Just about 2 wks after we registered, we saw all of the media explode for this other cat cafe. So it was kind of a shocker, but we just kept going about our business, and a few months later, look, we’re open, HAHAHAHA, so uh, you know, we’ll see what happens down the road, but you know, that’s how it goes.
NARR5: Like a catfight at midnight, this conflict is probably more noise than blood.
AMBI DOWN & OUT
NARR5 CONTD: Customers are fine with the fact that a few more abandoned kitties have a comfy home. Jennifer Cantin was looking at the cats through the front window.
ACT5: I was here, I think it was yesterday (GIGGLE) and there was, I think it was 8 cats, and they’re all probably the most docile cats I’ve seen in my entire life. //ME: Do you have a cat? //Not with me right now, but at my parents’ place I have two cats. //
NARR6: I asked her if she knew there was a cat fight in progress.
ACT6: Yes I saw it on the Facebook page of the other cat café and I thought it was ridiculous. I don’t think it’s good marketing. I think it’s better that you’re like, oh, ok well it’s good we started something and there are other cat cafés. I thought they’d be happy that they rescued other cats too instead of making a big fuss about it.
NARR7: That may be why in public, at least, the owners of the two cafés are keeping things civil. That’s probably good. Nobody likes to be around cats marking their territory.
For Monocle in Montreal, this is Steven Bodzin.