The Best Places for Cat Lovers in Los Angeles

You need to visit these places right meow!

Twinkie at the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats
Twinkie is a graduate student of the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats | Photo: @kittybungalow, Instagram

The special relationship between cats and humans is as old as civilization and stretches back more than 9,500 years. Cats have figured in the history of many nations, were worshipped as gods, and continue to be a favorite subject of artists and writers. Cat lovers in Los Angeles will discover that their feline friends are everywhere in the city. From kitty adoption centers to close encounters with lions and tigers, these are the best cat places in LA to visit on Global Cat Day (October 16) or right meow!

The Black Cat | Instagram by @hellacoopter
The Black Cat | Instagram by @hellacoopter

The Black Cat

The Black Cat in Silver Lake is a warm and inviting bar with attentive staff, handsome design, good food and cocktails. But The Black Cat is much more than a bustling neighborhood tavern. The Stonewall Inn in New York is widely regarded as the flashpoint that gave rise to LGBT pride. However, the original Black Cat was the site of a peaceful demonstration that took place on Feb. 11, 1967 - two and a half years before the 1969 Stonewall riots. A plaque mounted on the exterior of The Black Cat declares it as "the site of the first documented LGBT civil rights demonstration in the nation." In 2008, the City of Los Angeles recognized The Black Cat as Historic Cultural Monument No. 939. The demonstration that’s commemorated by the plaque stemmed from police raids that took place on New Year’s Eve 1967 at The Black Cat and other gay bars in the area.

Lexus LC 500 from Black Panther (2018) | Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum
Lexus LC 500 from Black Panther (2018) | Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum

Black Panther's Lexus - LACMA

Now on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum through June 2020, Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy is the largest exhibition of its kind in the world, featuring 50 iconic vehicles from more than 20 beloved films and TV series.

Fans can look back on a decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies with vehicles like T'Challa's Lexus LC 500 from Black Panther (2018), a Ford Mustang II King Cobra from Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017), an "exploded" Audi R8 from Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Captain America: Civil War (2016); and Tony Stark’s Ford Model A roadster from Iron Man (2008).

Elizabeth at CatCafe Lounge in West LA
Elizabeth at CatCafe Lounge | Photo: @catcafelounge, Instagram

CatCafe Lounge

Located on Sepulveda Boulevard in West L.A., the nonprofit CatCafe Lounge is a cat lover's "purradise." SNPLA pulls at-risk cats from the shelter so they can live at CatCafe Lounge in a stress-free environment until they are adopted. At any given time, more than 30 feline residents enjoy natural light, lots of vertical space options, creative solutions for scratching, plenty of nooks and crannies for napping, and toys for simulated hunting and chasing. The tax-deductible $25 donation includes entrance to the cat lounge for 90 minutes plus a free freshly brewed coffee or tea. Group discounts, packages and private parties are available.

Cat beds at Crumbs & Whiskers Los Angeles
Crumbs & Whiskers Los Angeles | Photo: @crumbs_whiskers, Instagram

Crumbs & Whiskers Los Angeles

Crumbs & Whiskers started with owner Kanchan Singh’s Kickstarter campaign and the dream of helping more shelter cats get adopted. The first Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, D.C. did so well that she opened another location on Melrose Avenue in L.A. Advance booking is highly recommended. During Kitten Season (after June 8) visits can be booked via the Kitten Lounge website. Pricing is $20 for a 30-minute session or $35 for the 70-minute Kitten Extravaganza. Crumbs & Whiskers also offers one-hour kitten yoga sessions on Sunday mornings for $40.

Felix the Cat sign at Felix Chevrolet | Photo: @greenhornetphoto, Instagram
Felix the Cat sign at Felix Chevrolet | Photo: @greenhornetphoto, Instagram

Felix Chevrolet

One of the most recognized cartoon characters in film history, Felix the Cat was created in the silent era and reached the height of his popularity in the Roaring Twenties. Numerous individuals and organizations have adopted the mischievous black cat as a mascot, including L.A. automobile dealer Winslow Felix, who opened Felix Chevrolet in 1921 at 12th Street and Grand Avenue. Felix was a friend of filmmaker Pat Sullivan, whose animation studio created the pop culture icon. Today Felix Chevrolet is located at Figueroa and Jefferson near the USC campus. The dealership's famous three-sided sign, installed in 1957 and featuring a smiling Felix the Cat, has been a familiar sight to generations of students and drivers.

The Iliad Bookshop

Bookstores are great, and bookstores with resident felines are even better! With over 125,000 books in stock, The Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood is one of the largest used bookstores in L.A., specializing in Literature and the Arts with an inventory that includes a wide range of subjects. Apollo and Zeus came to The Iliad as eight-week-old kittens in August 2014. According to The Iliad, "Apollo (the blonde one) loves to purr and climb ladders; Zeus (the gray tabby) may jump onto your neck unexpectedly." Friendly and sociable, the brothers are active and playful in the mornings and evenings, but in the afternoons they like to sleep in their bed on the front counter. You can read about The Iliad's previous cats, like Zola the "One-Eyed Pirate Kitty" and Charlie "the Silver Bullet," at the bookstore's Pet Gallery.

Jaguar Habitat - Los Angeles Zoo

Opened in 2014, the Rainforest of the Americas is a state-of-the-art exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Detailed sculptures, educational graphics, and architectural elements create an immersive experience for visitors. Animal highlights include amazing creatures from piranhas and giant otters to harpy eagles and cotton top tamarins.

Built on a hillside at the north end of the Rainforest of the Americas, the jaguar habitat is a 7,100 square-foot exhibit space that includes a waterfall and pool, as well as climbing trees and tall grasses. A legendary symbol of power and strength in ancient cultures like the Maya and Aztec, the jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the world’s third largest cat. Jaguars can live in many places but they are most at home in the dense rainforest, where the spotted coat provides camouflage for ambushing its prey. An adjacent 1,800 square-foot holding area provides an off-exhibit retreat. As solitary creatures, jaguars prefer to be alone when they're not courting, mating, or caring for young.

Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin at the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats | Photo: @kittybungalow, Instagram
Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin at the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats | Photo: @kittybungalow, Instagram

Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats

The Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats is California's only 100% feral cat rescue and socialization facility. As shelter interventionists, the Kitty Bungalow focuses on the most vulnerable of felines - the ferals. Nearly 80 weekly volunteers use guided socialization techniques and objectives to take these street cats from "hiss to home." Their goal is that these cats never have to see the inside of a shelter and the socialized kittens graduate as "Ivy League lap cats" into lifelong loving homes. More than just finding homes for the homeless kitties, the Kitty Bungalow is working at the root of the problem by providing broad based Trap Neuter Return (TNR) and free spays and neuters to neighborhoods in need within Los Angeles.

Me-Om Cat Yoga at NKLA Pet Adoption Center | Photo: Best Friends Animal Society
Me-Om Cat Yoga at NKLA Pet Adoption Center | Photo: Best Friends Animal Society

ME-OM: Yoga with Adoptable Cats

You can do a Cat Stretch (Marjaryasana) or Lion Pose (Simhasana) with an actual feline at ME-OM: Yoga With Adoptable Cats, a yoga class series hosted by the Best Friends Animal Society at the NKLA Pet Adoption Center in West L.A. For a $20 donation you get to mingle with furry spiritual masters while giving them a chance to socialize outside of their shelters. Participants must be ages 12-15 with a guardian, or 16 and older. Mats are provided. Purrrfect.

Pink Panthermobile | Photo: Galpin Auto Sports
Pink Panthermobile | Photo: Galpin Auto Sports

Pink Panthermobile - Galpin Auto Sports

Based in the San Fernando Valley since 1946, Galpin Motors is a family-owned, award-winning automotive collective that includes ten dealerships and the Horseless Carriage, "America’s first full-service, in-dealership restaurant." Galpin Motors' renowned in-house customizing and aftermarket center, Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) offers everything from window tinting to complete restorations and coach building - taking the wildest ideas from concept art to reality.

One of LA's best car collections is on view in the GAS showroom, which displays dozens of vehicles, including the outrageous Pink Panthermobile. Originally built in 1969 for $100,000, the bright pink custom limousine was used in the title and credit sequences of "The Pink Panther Show." The Panthermobile was designed by Ed “Newt” Newton and the construction was a collaboration between famed customizers, Dan Woods, Joe Bailon and Bill “The Leadslinger” Hines. Built on a 1960s Oldsmobile Toronado chassis and sculpted out of sheet metal, the Panthermobile is an astounding 23 feet long and six feet wide. A massive 7-liter engine moves the front wheels - the driver’s seat is located outside the vehicle in front of the engine. The clamshell door opens to reveal the "Pleasure Capsule" - a groovy interior with pink shag reclining seats, square-tufted upholstery, faux-fur pillows, a '70s car phone, and a bar. The Pink Panthermobile was bought at auction in 2011 and completely restored by GAS under the supervision of Galpin's Dave Shuten.

Room 8 the Cat mural at Elysian Heights Elementary | Instagram by @budgetfabulous
Room 8 the Cat mural at Elysian Heights Elementary | Instagram by @budgetfabulous

Room 8 the Cat - Elysian Heights Elementary School

Serving the communities of Elysian Heights and Great Echo Park, Elysian Heights Elementary was once the home of one of the most famous cats in the world. One day in 1952, a large gray-striped tabby cat surprised EHS students by wandering into a classroom and staying on campus until the end of lunch. He left as mysteriously as he had appeared. The cat returned for class the next morning, and after a few days of this pattern it became clear that the friendly feline had adopted Elysian Heights Elementary. Although he roamed the halls and slept wherever he pleased, he was named after the classroom where he made his debut: Room 8. When EHS closed for summer vacation, Room 8 vanished. On the first day of school the following September, Room 8 returned, once again showing up every day like clockwork. Room 8 repeated this routine every year for over 15 years and never missed a day. Room 8 also sat front and center in almost every 6th grade class photo from 1953 until 1967.

Word spread about Room 8, and by 1962 he had become an international celebrity. He was featured in countless newspapers and news programs, as well as TIME, Look, Weekly Reader, Art Linkletter's House Party, and a 1968 documentary, Big Cats, Little Cats. Room 8 received over 10,000 fan letters while he lived at EHS - most were answered by EHS students, aka his "secretaries." In 1966, the Room 8 story was told in the classic children's book, A Cat Called Room 8. Room 8 passed away in 1968 at the ripe old age of 22. His obituary ran in the Los Angeles Times and in papers as far away as Hartford, Connecticut. He is buried at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas. Room 8 is immortalized throughout the EHS campus with paintings, photographs and even sketches in cement.

Saber-toothed cat from Ice Age Encounters at the La Brea Tar Pits | Photo: Jim Henson's Creature Shop
Saber-toothed cat from Ice Age Encounters at the La Brea Tar Pits | Photo: Jim Henson's Creature Shop

Saber-toothed cat - La Brea Tar Pits

Located on the Miracle Mile, the La Brea Tar Pits are one of the world’s most famous fossil sites. The La Brea Tar Pits Museum (inside the George C. Page Museum building) houses an incredible collection of more than three million Ice Age specimens and displays Ice Age fossils — including saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and mammoths — from 10,000 to 40,000-year-old asphalt deposits. Every day, visitors can watch the processes of paleontology unfold as scientists and volunteers prepare fossils inside the glass-enclosed Fossil Lab. The La Brea Tar Pits are a registered National Natural Landmark.

The saber-toothed cat (Smilodon fatalis) is probably the most well-known species at the La Brea Tar Pits, and is also the California state fossil. More than 2,500 saber-toothed cats have been excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits and studied at the Museum. Visitors can watch a life-size saber-toothed cat come to life in Ice Age Encounters, a dynamic multimedia performance that uncovers the mysteries of the extinct creatures that roamed Ice Age Los Angeles over 10,000 years ago. The saber-toothed cat puppet is a collaboration between the La Brea Tar Pits Museum and the innovators at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, whose many film and TV credits include the Muppets and Where the Wild Things Are.

Aspen and Willow at Shambala Preserve | Photo: The Roar Foundation, Facebook
Aspen and Willow at Shambala Preserve | Photo: The Roar Foundation, Facebook

Shambala Preserve

Located in Acton, the Shambala Preserve is the high desert home for more than 40 exotic felines “who have suffered from gross mistreatment or neglect." Lions, tigers, cougars, black and spotted leopards, servals, bobcats, and Asian leopard cats live out their lives at Shambala. The big cat sanctuary was founded by actress Tippi Hedren, who serves as president of the non-profit Roar Foundation and resides at Shambala. The property is only open to the public one weekend a month for Safari Tours, a three-hour planned program that includes a one-hour guided walking tour. Safari Tours are available by advance reservation, for ages 18 and up only. Admission is $50 per person. Sunset Safaris are limited to 40 guests and include a light dinner and entertainment. Pricing is $150 and available by advance reservation only.