News & Politics

DC’s First-Ever Cat Cafe Reopens With a Mission in Mind

Crumbs & Whiskers closed for the pandemic. Now open again, it aims to save 500 cats.

Crumbs & Whiskers has helped about 20 cats get adopted since their reopening, but the cafe is aiming to help many more. Photograph courtesy of Crumbs & Whiskers.

If you’ve ever walked past Crumbs & Whiskers on M Street in Georgetown late at night, a peek through the windows reveals an astonishing sight—30 cats lounging about on an array of bougie benches and plush pillows. Luckily for local cat lovers and those enchanted by this sight, DC’s first cat cafe reopened in June—now with a goal to save 500 cats by Labor Day.

Crumbs & Whiskers first opened in 2015; after closing due to the pandemic, the cats are making a comeback. The cafe runs on a simple system: Customers pay $15 to $35, depending on how long they want to stay. For example, $35 buys a 70-minute kitten “extravagance.”

During a visit, customers can interact with any of the 30 cats as well as order goodies off a small menu from Crumbs & Whiskers’ food partner, Dog Tag bakery. Customers can even adopt a kitten—the cafe sources its cats from the local Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. Cats don’t stay long; according to Crumbs & Whiskers founder and CEO Kanchan Singh, cats stay—at most—a month and a half before they’re adopted.

The cafe is upping its efforts to ensure cats get into loving homes, because it is peak kitty season—April to October is when many litters are born. This increases the number of animals in rescues across the country, putting some at risk for euthanasia. To help combat that, Crumbs & Whiskers is aiming to save 500 cats this summer between its two locations in DC and Los Angeles.

So far, Crumbs & Whiskers has managed to get 20 cats adopted since its June reopening. Social media sites such as Tik Tok and Instagram have proven effective in bringing people into the store and excited about adopting.

“I have been a massive animal lover my whole life,” Singh says. After volunteering at animal shelters in her teens, she often reflected on how to revitalize the animal-adoption process. “One, just what being in a shelter does to homeless animals. It really shuts them down, and it really isn’t good for their emotional or mental health,” she says. Singh also witnessed many animals being returned because people never saw the true personality of the animal while it was in the shelter.

“It was kind of in the back of my mind: How do we have a place where people are adopting based on the personality of the cat, rather than the looks of the cat?” Singh says. After a short-lived corporate career, she opened Crumbs and Whiskers.

“The more people that come into stores and adopt,” Singh says, “the more cats we’re able to save.”

Crumbs and Whiskers is at 3109 M St NW.

Editorial Fellow

Melissa Santoyo joined Washingtonian in July 2021. She is a rising junior at Northwestern University studying journalism and art.