The audience for Cat Town (Oakland) and KitTea Cat Cafe (San Francisco) on the surface may seem the same – people who want to get a little something to eat and hang out with some cats – but the intention of each turns out to be quite different.
Cat Town is a non-profit, whose mission is cat adoptions. All the cats are available to good homes. The goal of having the public pay to play with the cats is to socialize them (the cats, not the people). The rules there are simple: don't pick up the cats, and don't disturb them while they are sleeping. Cats sleep quite a bit, so it is likely they will be sleeping at least part of the hour you are there. The intention of Cat Town is to promote homes for rescued cats: the focus is on the welfare of the cats. You can get a beverage and a pastry at RAWR Coffee Bar and take it into the Cat Zone with you. The atmosphere is informal and living-room comfortable.
And they feature art from local artists. I found an illustration by a former student.
KitTea Cat Cafe is customer-focused. While they do have one or two cats available for adoption, people go to play with the eleven resident rescue cats who are friendly hosts and hostesses to the new guests who visit them. The rules here are: shoes off, and don't pick up a sleeping cat.
At some point, Steve comes out to patrol the room. He's a fluffy black cat, only ten months old, but he's the alpha male and likes to sit at the front window, warily eyeing pedestrians and occasionally hissing at passing dogs.
Your reservation fee also nets you a cup of bottomless green tea, one of four choices, served in a ceramic cup on a small wooden tray. The café also features loaded waffles, panini, salads, and more tea. You can eat while you are with the cats, but it is best to eat in the cafe at the window bar after your time is up with the cats so you get another thirty minutes or more of extra cat-watching time.
This is the place to go with a special friend, or for an occasion, or if you need a spa day. Mother-daughter pairs, small family groups, gal-pals, couples, and tourists were there when we visited. And one older man. While browsing the gift shop area we overheard a woman come in who was "meeting a friend" and then saw a young man appear, saying it was good to meet her: an internet date, perhaps? A perfect meeting place.
Two cat cafés. Two different intentions. Two slightly different audiences. Some questions to think about are: Who is it for? What does it do? What does it communicate? How does it make you feel? Do you want to revisit it? Do you need to own it?
These are actually questions to ask about your art and writing. Does your work have the potential to connect with others? Is it a closed system or an open one? Who is your intended audience? What is your intention? By examining these two cat cafés, we can see how one intention, idea, or concept can actually be taken in different directions, depending on the focus. We might more closely consider the fate of rescue cats, the idea of having the means to pamper oneself, the thought of donating to a cause. We can also notice how the emotional landing point is similar: a feeling of calmness, say, and happy serenity, but arrived at through different doors. There are many ways to make work to lead to a similar feeling. What else do you want the reader/viewer to think about as they journey through your art?