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Paws for thought and give yourself that purr-fect feline at NY cat cafe

NEW YORK -- Feline mad? Then America's first cat cafe is purr-fect for you. New Yorkers looking for a “paws” from the hustle and bustle are queuing to sip free coffee and stroke cats.

Open for just four days until Sunday, Cat Cafe in the Lower East Side sponsored by pet food company Purina ONE, allows visitors to stroke, play and adopt 21 rescue shelter cats.

The pop-up has attracted hundreds of feline lovers, families and hip young things drawn to the latest craze in a city constantly searching for the next big thing.

Already popular in Japan, Taiwan, parts of Asia and Europe, New York and North America are late to the cat-cafe game. But organizers have been taken aback by the hit response.

Visitors are treated to a free cup of coffee: the cat'achino decorated with a foam kitten face being the most popular — and a snack such as a muffin or slice of pound cake.

Seven of the cats were adopted on the first day and organizers are confident that all the cats and may be more will go to new homes when the cafe closes at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Medical student Julie Schoonover, 24, loves cats but her roommate is allergic. So she's back at the cafe for a second day, dragging along two friends to share in the magic.

Purring with Pleasure

“Pure joy,” she beamed as she sat back on a sofa, her jeans covered in white, long-hair fur from one of the 10 cats she has spent the last two days stroking.

“She texted me yesterday saying this is better than singing lessons and taking walks in the park. She was so elated,” laughed her friend, 25-year-old actress Eloise Bonnet.

“Purring — there's something really healing about it,” said Schoonover. “My ideal thing would be to have a cat cafe and do my work in here,” she joked.

Visits are limited to an hour to keep the queue moving and not overwhelm the cats, who are taken to an animal shelter van for naps when they get tired.

The room is done up with easy chairs, cat toys and an area for children. There is even a TV for “cat chats” twice a day about how to interact and care for your pet, and if you can't make it in person then the entire event is streamed live.

There are framed photographs of the cats on the wall, telling you their names, those adopted and those still available such as the white, six-month-old Duchess.

“Will you be her forever play date?” asks the caption.

Purina One organized the pop-up as a means to promote their brand of cat food and nutrition.

“We're floored and thrilled at the reception we have received,” brand representative Niky Roberts told AFP.

“Approximately 500 people came through yesterday. The line wrapped all around the building and down the block. People were waiting a few hours to get in,” said Roberts.

All the cats are looked after by North Shore Animal League, America's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, and range from four months to five years old.

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AFPVisitors play with cats at the pop-up “Cat cafe,” a cafe where patrons can interact and adopt cats, in New York on Friday, April 25. (AFP)

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