Janet Pao, creator and proprietor of Moon Cat Café. Moon Cat Café photos courtesy of Janet Pao.
Adoption photos courtesy of Helen Sanders CatPAWS.
Behind the wheel of the white van, with graphics promising cats, coffee and fine goods within, sits Janet Pao, proprietor of Moon Cat Café. Moon Cat is the first-known cat café on wheels in the United States. The café had its soft opening in December 2016, and the engine has been purring along continually since February.
Pao, who just turned 30, took a year to get her ingenious creation up and running.
“I’d never done anything like this before,” she said.
Pao is originally from Michigan and a graduate of Cornell University. She has worked in China, the Bay Area and Irvine in the areas of consumer technology and manufacturing. After six years as a numbers cruncher, she decided to do something more personally meaningful to her. Because of allergies in her family, Pao had never had a pet as a child, but she’s a lifelong cat lover, volunteering at animal shelters every summer when she was younger. She was attracted by the kindle of cat cafés that spread across the country after the first one appeared in Japan, and decided to leave technology for tabbies, torties and tuxes.
“I took a leap of faith—I had no marriage, no kids, no mortgage, and I wanted to live my life with no regrets,” Pao said.
Instead of a brick and mortar, Pao came up with something original—a cat café on wheels.
“I figured if there was mobile pet grooming, food trucks and mobile boutiques, then why not a mobile cat café?” she said.
Why not, indeed!
Pao came up with a couple of iterations of her vision, which she presented to a truck renovator and asked if they thought it was something that they could effectively produce. As the renovations were made, Pao designed the inside, which resembles an upscale playhouse. It is, actually, when you consider the cats. The kitties have their own little alcove complete with pillows, hideaways, beds, playthings and comfy, elegant sitting areas for visitors to have their coffee klatches and tea parties with the kittens. The area is clean and air conditioned.
A pleasant place for party animals and wallflowers.
The furniture is high-end Scandinavian design except for the drop-down tables, which had to be crafted from lightweight material, as the vehicle’s aluminum walls aren’t strong enough to support the heavier wood. The reception area is stocked with distinctive, handcrafted mugs, pet dishes, T-shirts, lapel pins and other items for sale. The products, both locally and globally sourced, are created by independent female designers, with one male thrown in for diversity, Pao said.
Moon Cat’s reception area features an attractive selection of feline-oriented fashion.
And the coffee? Even if you don’t want a cat, pay the admission fee and go for the coffee. And the pastries. The coffee is roasted in-house by LA-based Elabrew, and it’s magnificent. If you’re not a coffee drinker, there’s tea and water. The pastries are freshly baked by Kape Republik in Cerritos. Kape (pronounced KAH-peh) is Tagalog for coffee, and many of the little goodies are Filipino inspired.
Locally sourced coffee and pastries are available to visitors to the cat area.
The $12 fee to enter the cat sanctum includes a beverage, a pastry, a reusable coaster and a visit with the adoptable cats. A percentage of the fee goes to Moon Cat Cafe’s rescue partners. Moon Cat Café is a cashless business, so bring a credit or a debit card. (There’s no charge to enter the reception area.)
And the cats? The most important elements of Moon Cat are brought in by volunteers from the rescue organizations that Pao partners with. Most of the rescues are located in LA County, but Pao is branching out to Orange County.
So far, Moon Cat Café is a one-person operation. Pao does all the books, ordering, cleaning and disinfecting before she puts the truck in storage at the end of the day. She’s also the driver, and says that the vehicle is its own publicity agent.
“School bus drivers and taxi drivers give me a thumbs-up,” she said. “And people see the van parked somewhere and say ‘Hey, I saw you on the 605!’ It’s a mobile billboard. They’re curious and want to come in.”
Pao wants to capitalize on Moon Cat Cafe’s thus far singular existence by creating a fleet. She’s presently doing an investor pitch to reach more cities statewide and hopefully nationwide. She also envisions Moon Cat as a conduit for delivering pet food and coffee to homeless people and people in need and as a visitor to senior centers.
Meanwhile, Janet Pao, keep on truckin’! The future of countless kitties is riding on the Moon Cat Café!
For a list of appearances, FAQs, and all information Moon Cat, visit the cafe’s website.
Here are this weekend’s playmates at Moon Cat Café (see Places to Go, Pets to Support). They’re fostered at the Helen Sanders CatPAWS rescue in Seal Beach. For information on these cats or to adopt any cat from the organization, contact [email protected].
Precious little Rumpel is longing for a home where he’ll be loved forever and ever. He’s adorable.
Meet Basil! CatPAWS rescued this young beautiful girl (only 6 months old) with her mom and brother from a public shelter where they likely wouldn’t have made it out alive. Now Basil is safe, but she’s looking for her special someone to go home with and love!
Last week’s Pet Projects focused on senior pets. CatPAWS regularly rescues senior kitties from public shelters because we felt they had too much love to give and life to live to let their lives end there, without a home. [Disclaimer: One of them is in my house now; I found her leaping in the sink to lick off a cat food spoon. Didn’t think she had it in her!] This is one such girl, Treasure. She has some health issues that are currently being managed, mostly with diet. According to the public shelter from which CatPAWS rescued her, she was surrendered by owner because she was “old and sick and threw up.” Of the many heartbreaking situations rescues encounter, said the CatPAWS spokesperson, “the plight of these older cats abandoned by their people just when they need love and care the most tears us up the worst.” So they took her. Whatever time she has, CatPAWS wants her to spend in a home and not have her life ended in a shelter. Is there a special home out there for this sweet girl so she can know a love and home again once more in her life? “Caring for an elderly kitty, going on that journey and loving them in that last chapter of their lives can be very rewarding,” CatPAWS wrote, and I can attest to that.
Things to Do, Pets to Support
Online Fund-Raiser for Fix Long Beach
November 10–December 18 at this link.
Here’s a charming way to support Fix Long Beach and get your holiday shopping done early. Custom Stepping Stones will create an artistic engraved stone to your specs for you, your pet, a loved one or all three! Simply pick out your stone and the coloring, input your wording on the drop-down menu and select “FIX.” A portion of the proceeds will be donated back to Fix Long Beach to help cover a spay or a neuter procedure for a dog a or a cat.
Helen Sanders CatPAWS Moon Cat Café Adoption Event
Saturday, November 18, 11:00AM–4:00PM, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway (former El Torito location), Long Beach
Adoption fees apply; include spay/neuter, vaccines, vetting
CatPAWS is again partnering with the wonderful Moon Cat Cafe for another fun adoption event! Enjoy delicious gourmet coffee and fresh-baked pastries while hanging out with our amazing adoptable cats! Moon Cat Cafe is the first ever Mobile Cat Cafe and is one of the very few cat cafes here in SoCal! Come experience what it’s like to be in a mobile cat café, and make some new kitty friends!
El Dorado Park Wag ’n’ Walk
Saturday, November 18, 10:00AM, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway (former El Torito location), Long Beach
Adoption fees apply; include spay/neuter, vaccines, vetting
Bring your furry friends and join the El Dorado Dog Park Association in a 1.84 mile walk around the bike path on Saturday, November 18th at 10:00 AM. All participants (of the non-furry kind) will receive an event t-shirt, water-bottle, and photo. Tickets are $35 per walker and all proceeds will go toward new benches as well as additional water fountain features for the park. Tickets are tax deductible through Partners of Parks and can be purchased here.
Friends of El Dorado Park’s Holiday Bone-anza
Sunday, November 19, 10:00AM–4:00PM, Good Neighbor Park, 2800 Studebaker Road, Long Beach
Free to attend
This year’s Bone-anza will be a fun-filled event featuring food trucks, vendors for your holiday shopping, contests, a DJ featuring Christmas sounds, elves, your doggie’s photo with Santa, and a silent auction and a raffle featuring great gifts from our sponsors. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the K9 Kismet booth #4 & #5. They will be collecting the toys to support Toys for Tots! All proceeds from both the calendar and the event will go to support enhancements of the El Dorado Dog Park.
Black Friday Pet Adoption Event
Friday, November 26, noon–4:00PM, Pussy and Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, 4818 East Second Street, Long Beach
Adoption fees apply; include spay/neuter, vaccines, vetting
This event combines Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, in the true sense of the word. Two local rescues—not businesses, of course, but small in the sense that they’re privately run and donation based, will have loving pets to adopt out. Stop by and meet the cats from Zoey’s Place and the doggies from Live Love Animal Rescue, and say hi to the dedicated volunteers who make it happen for pets and people!
Pet Adoption Event at PFE
Saturday, December 2, 11:00AM–3:00PM, Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach
Adoption fees apply
Find your new BFF and everything that he or she could ever want or need, in one place. Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS) and other rescues will be bringing some wonderful dogs ready to go home with their new people. Everything is high quality at Pet Food Express, and that includes the adoptive pets! Check out the Cat Adoption Center, featuring fine felines from Long Beach Animal Care Services and Stray Cat Alliance.
Fix Long Beach Free Spay/Neuter Clinic
Saturday, December 9, 7:30AM–4:00PM, Houghton Park, 6500 Atlantic Avenue (near Jordan High), Long Beach
No charge for procedures; $15–$25 donation suggested
The grassroots free spay/neuter organization Fix Long Beach invites you to make an appointment for your unfixed dog, or get vouchers for free procedures for your dog or cat! These clinics are generously sponsored through Hope for Paws and Eldad Hagar.
Visit this link for qualifications and an application for your appointment. There is also a donation button to help Fix Long Beach continue their efforts. Click the organization’s Amazon Wish List link to donate items, or bring them to the event if you find a better deal!
Let’s continue to help make Long Beach no kill, one pet at a time!
Pet CPR First Aid and Training
Saturday, January 20, 2018, 11:00AM–4:00PM, Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach
$75 registration fee
Register early for this inclusive workshop that will prepare you for emergency situations involving pets. The workshop is appropriate for individuals interested in working in the veterinary field, for animal shelters and rescues, as police officers, or simply as Good Samaritans and prepared pet owners. All materials will be provided. Early registration is recommended, as seating is limited. For more information, see flier above.
Available Now: Helen Sanders CatPAWS 13-Month 2018 “Show Us Your Kitties” Calendar
The new CatPAWS calendar, subtitled “Rescue Is Love,” is available for $10 at this link. All the pets are CatPAWS rescues, now in loving homes. Large, full-color photos for each month, plus honorarium thumbnails on individual days. A mosaic of all entries is included as well. All funds from the entry contest and calendar sales will go toward veterinary care, food and other needs of the wonderful kitties up for adoption (see them all here!). You may also pick up a calendar at one of our adoption centers in Seal Beach or Long Beach, California:
Petsmart, 12341 Seal Beach Boulevard, Seal Beach
Petco, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach
Free Pet Food Distributions
Papa, a big “teddy bear’ of a dog, sits with his human in Ashlee’s Pet Care station at Beacon for Him.
Beacon for Him has extended an outreach for people experiencing homelessness and their pets. Pet food, primarily dog food, is available at their facility at 439 West Anaheim Street, Mondays from 9:00AM to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3:00PM. A dog-washing station with a stainless-steel tub is also available onsite at these hours. Donations and supplies such as shampoo, flea control and, of course, pet food are always gratefully accepted.
The Pet Food Bank is sponsored by Christian Outreach in Action. COA is located at 515 E 3rd St, Long Beach. Hours are Thursday from 9:00AM to 11:00AM.
Shelter-Enrichment Supplies Needed for ACS Dogs!
Drop-off: Wednesdays through Fridays, 10:00AM–5:30PM and Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00AM–4:00PM, 7700 East Spring Street, Long Beach
Individual donations requested
ACS is continuing our kennel enrichment activities for our canine guests here and could use so more donations (there are plenty for the cats!). Here is what’s needed:
- creamy peanut butter
- beef broth (canned or in the box)
- chicken broth (canned or in the box)
- carabiner clips (heavy duty)
- ice cube trays
- pipe cleaners
- toilet paper/paper towel rolls
- incense and essential oils
- canned cat and dog food
Donations are tax deductible. Our pups and kitties say thanks so much!
Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS) Information for Low-Cost Vaccinations and Spay/Neuter Clinics
7700 East Spring Street at entrance to El Dorado Park (no fee for shelter visitors), Long Beach
Vouchers that take a big bite, so to speak, out of the cost of spay/neuter procedures are available at ACS during their public hours. Visit this link for information on clinics that accept the vouchers and for other spay/neuter assistance.
For low-cost vaccines, visit this link. Note that pet owners must be 18 years or older, all pets must be on leashes or in carriers, and only healthy and non-pregnant animals will be vaccinated. Please bring prior vaccination information with you to the clinic. Vaccination and microchip services are provided for pets residing in any city. Licensing is provided for residents within our jurisdiction at Saturday clinics; please bring your renewal notice and rabies certificate with you.
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.