By AJ Dent
Seattle cat lovers are being called to unite in a common cause with an uncommon twist: NEKO, a cafe where cats can roam free, is currently seeking funding to open on Capitol Hill.
“Growing up I always wanted to work with animals in some way that could help them,” states Caitlin Unsell, founder of NEKO. “Cats have always been one of my favorite animals because their company alone can affect your mood in a such a positive way. They are quite healing and are actually proven to reduce stress and anxiety and even lower your blood pressure.”
It wasn’t until Unsell moved overseas for three years that she saw a way to turn her passion for cats into a career. While living in Sapporo, Japan — and missing her own cat, Jamil, back home — she discovered the country’s popular cat cafes.
“Japan is the cat cafe capitol of the world and I was in kitty heaven,” she said. “The Japanese are really on to something in terms of understanding the bonds that develop between people and cats. It was so nice to be able to get my kitty fix while living there without having my own cat. This immediately made me think of people who aren’t able to have animals at home for various reasons like housing restrictions, allergies or maybe they travel too much to have one.”
Humans won’t be the only ones benefitting when Unsell’s dream is realized.