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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

So the cat distribution system isn’t working? Visit cats at businesses near you with the ShopCats app for temporary conCATment! 

Scrolling on TikTok in late 2023, I discovered a video highlighting the ShopCats app. Having three cats that I can’t visit often due to them living at my home, a 5-hour drive away from campus, I had no choice but to download this app to overcome my cat homesickness. 

As much as therapy dogs are an amazing option offered at Toronto Metropolitan University, as a cat owner, I wish therapy cats were available on any day of the week. That’s why this app is a CATfull alternative!

Especially knowing the Scarborough location of the Lazy Cat Café will close in July and be replaced by a location downtown, I want to profit from every opportunity to visit cats elsewhere every day I feel I need to. 

Instead of paying to enter a cat café or go to PetSmart to visit a cat, I decided to discover this app further this summer! Last year, I went back home to my cats for the summer, and when I came back, the weather was too cold for me to go out and try the app. I’m having a Toronto summer this year and hoping to discover the app further! 

According to cat owner and ShopCats user Charlene Hatcher, the app is a way for her to “visit other cats and connect with other cats. It’s also a great way for people who can’t own cats, don’t have the financial means to, or don’t want that permanent commitment.” 


Want to go visit some cats with jobs? This app shows you where there are employed cats near you. Plus, you can keep up with shop cats around the world. The app is called ShopCats! Special thanks to the creator of ShopCats, David Martin, for reaching out and telling me about it! 🐈 🐈‍⬛ #catswithjobs #catsoftiktok #cats #shopcats #goodnews #positivecontent

♬ original sound – jenn💜 good news & fun stories

Cats are also proven to help mental health and reduce stress. If you’re struggling to get by and make a living, owning a cat might not be a feasible option, so getting out of your home and visiting a cat through this app is an amazing idea! 

In fact, the app’s creator wrote on their website that the idea originated from the designer’s need for cat cuddles, all while living in a building that did not allow pets. Therefore, she regularly visited her favourite shop cats in San Francisco businesses. That’s when she and founder David Martin joked about creating a way to find all the shop cats in the world, so they made it a reality. 

ShopCats is an app that pinpoints where cats are near you. It works in various locations, such as the Greater Toronto Area.

So how can you discover them? 

This app has three important CATegories. 

Visits: This is like Instagram’s feed, showcasing people visiting cats. 

Cat directory: This section spotlights featured categories for where to meet these sweet felines. Bookstores, home and garden stores, cafes, and more are included. Popular cities and hotspots are also in nearby areas! 

Cat map: It’s just like Google Maps but with locations of cats that people have visited and some that have yet to be visited. There’s an extensive list of 10,000+ cats living in public spaces you can see in real life or virtually through the app. 

So if you’re missing a cat’s love, as noted by the creator on their website, “a head butt, a brush up against your leg, the scratch you give their chin,” then use ShopCats to flourish that joy. 

According to a ShopCats user, Gabriel Hilty, “The app is a cool and fun way to explore, especially if you’re in an area you don’t know yet… When you compare it to the community dog owners have, that’s not as much a thing with cats, so the app adds a community element to the experience.”

I'm a second-year Journalism student passionate about fashion, women's rights, wellness, film and the arts & culture! I've written in previous campus publications such as CanCulture, the Eyeopener, and the Society of the Creative School. I have also done some social media work with StyleCircle and the Tall Chair, as well as my summer job at the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition as a social media manager. I love to dress according to how I feel each day! Most of the time, it has to be a slay because every day is a fashion show and the world truly is our runway, as per the famous quote. My identity has always been surrounded by fashion, the arts, and my culture. For reference, I'm French Canadian and Gujurati. Can't wait to write with Her Campus! Yooopidoodles! :)