Mobile cat cafe perches at Costa Mesa pet expo

A kitty lounges in the Moon Cat Cafe, a modified delivery van where potential adoptive families can meet cats in a cage-free setting. This cat has been adopted, but visitors can meet more like it as Moon Cat Cafe stops at the America’s Family Pet Expo this weekend in Costa Mesa.
(Courtesy of Ray An and Moon Cat Cafe)

Moon Cat Cafe is part Starbucks and part animal shelter, and it’s coming to the America’s Family Pet Expo this weekend in Costa Mesa.

Founder Janet Pao provides a vehicle, literally, for small local nonprofits to get cats and their potential new owners together.

Moon Cat Cafe is a modified delivery van that Pao said is the world’s first to put the mobile spin on cat cafes, which typically are brick-and-mortar coffeehouses where adoptable cats roam and lounge freely among patrons.

Moon Cat debuted about a year ago and roves around Los Angeles and Orange counties, parking outside public and private events, pet boutiques and large stores like PetSmart.

Like a cat springing from the top of a bookcase to the arm of a couch, Pao took a leap of faith in leaving tech sales to find her joy with Moon Cat. It is now her full-time job. Earlier this month, Moon Cat made appearances in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Brea.

More than 30 cats have been rehoused after putting their best paws forward at Moon Cat. Pao said she is more concerned with quality over quantity, so her feline guests rarely go straight from the van to a new home. Her partner rescue organizations often have multi-step application processes to ensure the homes’ fitness.

Cats roam freely inside the Moon Cat Cafe, which will be at the America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa from Friday to Sunday.
(Courtesy of Ray An and Moon Cat Cafe )

In the face of steep real estate costs, mobile services are a trend across industries — from pet groomers and veterinarians to boutiques and food trucks, Pao said. Customers also value the convenience of a service coming to them.

The van typically has three or four adult cats at a time, or about five kittens, in a homey cafe setting that Pao said puts the cats at ease. For $12, visitors get a coffee or bottled water, a pastry, a souvenir coaster and face time with the kitties. The cafe is separated from the cat area by a glass partition.

Moon Cat Cafe will be outside the cat building at the America’s Family Pet Expo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The expo is at the OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive.

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