I Went to Montreal’s New Cat Cafe on Shrooms
I have a broken relationship with cats. Once in a while, they take a moment from shitting in boxes and lurking in dark corners to glare at me with indifference or distrust, but that’s about it. Up until now, we’ve been working under the unspoken agreement to not really give a shit about each other. So when VICE asked me to visit the new cat café that had just opened in Montreal, my dysfunctional relationship with cats came to the fore.
Café des Chats is the first establishment of its kind to open in Canada. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a cat café, it’s basically a coffee shop with a bunch of cats living inside it. I thought the concept seemed a little contrived, and the thought of drinking espresso in a room that’s crawling with eight unimpressed and distrusting creatures initially sounded like a bit of a nightmare. But, framed the right way, this could be a great opportunity to face my fears and heal my relationship with felines. Maybe throwing them into our neighborhood cafés is actually a great idea.
Either way, I probably wasn’t going to enjoy myself or learn anything by going in my current headspace, so I decided to take some mushrooms before crossing the cat café threshold.
I spoke with the owner Nadine a few days before my visit, and she agreed to have me come by half an hour before it opened on Friday, at 9:30 in the morning. I met up with Stephanie (our photographer) beforehand to drink mushroom tea and have some grounding, sober thoughts while I still could. I sat on the edge of her couch at 8:45, taking careful sips as the sun glanced off her bookshelf. I watched the cluster of green mushroom bits swirl into the tea, thinking of how the fate of my morning rested in its murky depths.
After I finished my cup, we biked over to the café in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, and stood outside to take a photo of me nervously laughing outside.
I was still clear-headed, but knew by the way my fingers were tingling I was on my way to ShroomTown. I watched Stephanie fiddle with her camera and realized that while we were in there, she would be the only other human that knew I was tripping. I made a mental note to remember that if things got out of control.
The co-owner Youseff saw us standing outside and came out to greet us.
“Welcome,” he said. “Come on in.”
The Cat Circus Proves Humans Love Watching Cats Do Dumb Shit
The cat-circus brand is a touring show that has been around for years. It seems to do pretty well. How could this be, I wondered? As the circus progressed, it seemed like a clear outline of every reason why kitschy cats have become such a popular enterprise.
Cats are assholes.
One of the joys of seeing cats doing stupid things is that it openly mocks how cats want to be seen.
Cats strut arrogantly, displaying their superiority by rejecting most of your ideas on what they should or should not do, but they’re also powerless puffballs. They’re like old British men, and it’s satisfying to see them get pied in the face.
The star cat is named Tuna, and he is a big-time diva. The only contribution Tuna makes to the show is pressing his bell, but his attitude is what makes him a star, and that’s why he’s on all of the merchandise. Throughout the show, I find myself alternating between loving Tuna and hating Tuna but never denying that Tuna is one magnetic cat.
Cats are cute.
Duh, a huge part of the fun of seeing a cat do anything is that they’re cute as shit. The eyes, the ears, the fur, the little paws—c’mon! They’re hot little fuckers, and they know it.
Read the whole thing
These Guys Made Up a Fake Case to Get On ‘Judge Judy’
Back in 2010, there was an amazing Judge Judy segment that featured four people in a dispute over some smashed TVs and a dead cat. You may have seen a clip of it called "Best Judge Judy ending EVER!!!!!"
The story was completely made up. Invented by four roommates in order to get a free trip to LA and some cash out of the Judge Judy producers.
The story they invented was, basically, that a guy called Jonathan had gotten wasted at the house of a girl named Kate and smashed two TVs that she owned. One of the TVs, she said, landed on her pet cat, Trips, killing it. You can see the full segment here.
I spoke to Jonathan, the defendant in the case, to hear his side off what happened:
VICE: What gave you guys the idea to contact the show?
Jonathan Coward: Well, my friend Kate, who was the plaintiff, had just moved up to New York from Baltimore, and she asked me what a quick way to make money was. I had some friends who went on Judge Joe Brown back in the late 90s. They were on there for some sort of roommate dispute. And they told me that the show pays the settlement.
Was that a genuine case?
Yeah. So I told her we could come up with some story for Judge Judy, and we would probably get the settlement and a free trip to LA, because we knew that’s where they shot. So we tried to think of a story that was absurd, something that would be good television. So I just threw out the idea of the cat thing, just off the top of my head. The whole point was that we need to have a story that’s entertaining, but also involves damaged property. I was aware that the cap for small claims was around four grand. Kate got real excited about it and emailed the show straight away. And they got back to her, and were interested in doing it.
How did they reach out to you?
They just called. I allowed Kate to give them my number. I was really dodgy and cagey about answering the phone, and I would like, talk to them for a second and hang up, and I told them I’d do it if they gave me an appearance fee and flew my friend Brian out for a character witness. I guess I was more concerned about making this more of a party for ourselves than anything else.
How much of the story that you guys told is true?
Absolutely none of it. Once they agreed to put us on the show, we realized that we needed to take roles and not have this be something that was completely see through. There were tensions at our house, so a slight amount of it was real.
How Cat-Loving Sleuths Found an Accused Killer Sadist
A shocking story of citizen detectives, a videotaped murder, animal torture and one very disturbed celebrity wannabe
The Mangy/Adorable Cats of Marrakech Need Names
The best thing about Marrakech, one of my favorite Moroccan cities, is its out-of-control cat population. I love cats and have a soft spot for deformed and mangy cats, so Marrakech is heaven for me—all of the city’s friendly people, delicious food, and beautiful rugs are cool too, but I’m really all about the cats. I like naming the cats and picking them up no matter how filthy they are. Here are some of the cats I’ve met in Marrakech.
I named this cat Paris. He has a cute, wonky eye. I met him in the Ourika Valley while hunting for textiles on a rainy day. He has tiny paws.
Here’s Moto. He was always lounging in the shade of this motorcycle.
This is Palace Cat. Every day she sat outside the palace guarding it. I never saw anyone sitting on this bench besides her.
This is Meowy. He’s named Meowy because he meowed a lot when I took his picture. Afterwards, he walked over to me to receive a good pet. Marrakech’s cats are typically friendly.
It’s uncommon for people to have cats as pets in Morocco—at least not in the medinas—but some cats will hang out at shops and become shop cats. You can usually find this cat getting sun at this art shop. The owners don’t mind him because he eats mice and attracts tourists.
This kitten is puny, especially compared to that big stone lion. There’s a shop I go to to get textiles, and going there is such a treat because cats and kittens rule the place. It’s called Mustapha Blaoui. It is the premier destination for Moroccan cat tourism.
These cats are tired after a long day. It was around 100 degrees when this photo was taken. So sleepy!
VICE: Hi, Sandra. How many cats are on the Catboat?
Catboat Sandra: We can house approximately 50 cats at a time. We have about 14 resident cats that are not adoptable. They were born outside and not socialized and will never be normal house cats. On the boat, they are relaxed with each other. Some of them will hide when it’s visiting hour. We neuter, vaccinate, and chip all the cats that come in. Sometimes, we also neuter cats that live outside. We think it’s very important that cats are neutered, because there are still so many stray cats. We also work with foster homes—most of the time one of our volunteers—if we have kittens with or without their mother.
—We took a visit to the world’s only floating cat sanctuary. Read all about it