Skip to content

'Absolutely filthy': customer recounts visit to Richmond cat cafe

Catopia is known for its sold-out "dogopia" pop-up dog cafe events.

Animal cafes are often advertised as a fun experience for animal lovers, but one Richmond News reader was left "disgusted" after visiting a popular cat cafe.

Lorri Johnson took her kids to Catopia, a cat cafe on Minoru Boulevard nestled between the Hilton and Marriott hotels near Richmond Centre, back in October.

"It was absolutely filthy, with cat poo on the walls and furniture," she recalled.

Johnson added there was no washroom for customer use during her visit, and although she was able to wash her hands at the sink, there was no soap or paper towels.

When the News visited the cat cafe last month, a pungent odour could be smelled from the entrance, which consisted of two glass doors.

Customers are required to change out of their shoes and put on slippers before entering the cafe through the second glass door, where at least eight cats were seen roaming around freely. 

Catopia charges $17 per hour to hang out with the cats, and although it is called a cat cafe, food is not prepared on the premises.

However, customers are allowed to order drinks and cakes from First Bite Richmond, a dessert shop next door.

The shop is also known for its sold-out pop-up dog cafe events, which feature pets belonging to the owner's friends.

Catopia is registered in the City of Richmond's business directory as a retail pet supply store where customers are charged according to time to "stay and play with the cats."

Apart from hygiene concerns, Johnson also found the cats were "not in great shape" during her visit.

Most had matted hair and one cat seemed to have an issue with its eye, said Johnson, who added there was "also cat poo in one of the cats' fur."

She recalled only seeing one bowl of water and there was no food for the cats, who "went crazy" when offered a tune puree treat that Johnson bought from the store.

Concerned about the ethics of the business and how they treat the animals, Johnson ultimately filed complaints with BC SPCA as well as Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

Cat cafe denies mistreatment, BC SPCA investigating

When contacted by the News, Catopia denied having received complaints about hygiene and the cafe and the treatment of the animals.

According to Catopia, the entire store is disinfected and cleaned before opening, which includes cleaning the room and litter box.

The store is sprayed with pet-safe deodorizer after cleaning and the store is disinfected with a solution of veterinary disinfectant mixed with water after each customer leaves.

Apart from cleaning, staff are also tasked with monitoring the health of the animals "every day," reads Catopia's statement.

"We also will take cats to (the) vet to do physical exam and deworm."

Although Catopia is not a regulated food premises, a VCH spokesperson confirmed it did receive a complaint about food safety at Catopia.

"We’re working with the owners to ensure food is not being served in the establishment," reads the statement from VCH.

In the statement to the News, Catopia confirmed while customers can order their own food, staff will not pick up orders for customers.

BC SPCA, which manages the Richmond Animal Shelter, also confirmed that they have received complaints about Catopia.

"We are aware of past and ongoing concerns at Catopia and we are currently investigating the facility," said BC SPCA Richmond manager Krista Shaw.

Got an opinion on this story or any others in Richmond? Send us a letter or email your thoughts or story tips to [email protected].