TIME Culture

Nation’s First Cat Cafe Opens in Oakland

A cat lounges at Cat Town Cafe, the nation's first permanent cat cafe, during the grand opening on Oct. 25, 2014 in Oakland, Calif. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Take a look inside the first permanent cat cafe to open on American soil

Dozens of Oakland residents queued up Saturday to get their paws on cats and drip coffee. The founders of Cat Town Cafe, a hybrid drinkery and “cat zone,” held a grand opening for the nation’s first permanent cat cafe—a furry fantasy others have tried to realize, only to be derailed by funding problems and pesky health codes.

“The cat cafe, to us, is fun schtick on top of a serious rescue operation,” said Adam “Catman” Myatt, a photographer who co-founded Cat Town with Ann Dunn. Disheartened by the cramped, scarring conditions at local animal services, Dunn started a nonprofit foster program to help whiskery creatures find homes in 2010. That operation, Cat Town, became the springboard for the spot in downtown Oakland where customers frolicked with adoptable felines while munching bagels on this historic October 25.

“This is kind of my dream vision of what Cat Town would be like,” said Julie Sammons, an employee and the nearby University of California-Berkeley, as she stroked one cat in her lap and another sprawled preciously on a burlap cat bed beside her.

Julie Sammons lives out her dreams at Cat Town Cafe on Oct. 25, 2014 in Oakland, Calif. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Some locals came out of curiosity, others a devout appreciation of little purr-boxes. Many admired the mission behind the venture and just as many lauded the decor, murals and elaborate cat houses that placed the cafe firmly in the Bay Area. Two graffiti artists, known as Derp and T, painted one wall with images of boats in front of the Bay Bridge, and cats wove through miniature reproductions of the historic Tribune Tower and twin federal towers that make up Oakland’s skyline.

A cat walks atop a reproduction of Oakland’s Tribune Tower at the Cat Town Cafe in Oakland on Oct. 25, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

“This is much nicer than I expected,” said Ellen Breeden, who teaches special education in Oakland, “not as creepy as the ones in Japan I’ve seen on the Internet.” When asked what brought her out for opening day, Breeden had a simple response: “I love cats.” Others were slightly more specific in their praise of the animals. “They’re soft and furry,” said Marilyn Standley, a bookkeeper for a theater company. “And they cover their poop.”

A cat strolls past miniature reproductions of twin federal towers that shape Oakland’s skyline at Cat Town Cafe on Oct. 25, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

To keep the building up to code, the cat zone and cafe had to be separated by a corridor with closed doors on either end. The ventilation system was built so that air only comes from the cafe into the cat zone, and not vice versa. Employees who work in the cafe and those working in the cat zone cannot mix, and Cat Town Cafe even has separate bathrooms—for those who have, and have not, entered the zone o’cats. Dunn says getting through the red tape wasn’t that hard, and neither was getting funding. After she and Myatt hit on the idea in December last year, they quickly raised funds through donations and a successful Kickstarter campaign.

A corridor separates the cafe portion of Cat Town Cafe from the cat-zone area, on Oct. 25, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

By Saturday afternoon, animals were already flying out of the cat zone into loving homes. And some visitors who had come with no intention of adopting a cat were starting to have ideas, even despite lovers’ allergies. Though no live camera for the cat zone had been set up by the grand opening, employees said that they were considering giving the world a view of Cat Town Cafe. Many homeless cats, Dunn says, just need to be in a comfortable environment so that potential adopters can see them thriving, rather than huddled in a corner of a metal box. “He literally grew up in a cage,” Dunn said, pointing to a playful tabby named Cooper who found new owners off the bat. “Though you’d never know it.”

This is Cooper, a cat who got adopted at the Cat Town Cafe in Oakland, Calif. Katy Steinmetz for TIME
TIME celebrities

Watch Benedict Cumberbatch Attempt Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’ Walk

It's elementary, Beyonce

Benedict Cumberbatch can add “pop star power walk” to his LinkedIn profile, if he has one.

The British star attempted his best Beyonce walk in a recently taped episode of The Graham Norton Show, scheduled to air Saturday Nov. 1 on BBC America.

How did he get himself into such a mess, you may ask? He was following the lead of comedian Miranda Hart, whose routine includes a riff on different walks. Joining Cumberbatch on the show, she demonstrates her prowess, and asks the Sherlock star to join. Cumberbatch, who got his start doing Shakespeare, does a pretty good job. All’s well that ends with Beyonce.

TIME society

See Jack-o’-Lanterns That Look Like Celebrities

Gourds gone wild

In honor of National Pumpkin Day, take a look at some artfully carved jack-o’-lanterns on display at Rise of the Jack-o’-Lanterns, a 1/4-mile walking trail filled with over 5,000 hand-carved illuminated Jack-o’-lanterns in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

TIME Bizarre

Shia LaBeouf Doesn’t Mind Being Called a Cannibal

He's 'lurking in the shadows,' according to a new song

Some might be taken aback if accused of being a cannibal, but not a one Shia LaBeouf.

In a new video by singer-songwriter Rob Cantor, dancers and singers fly across the screen in a dramatically recounted battle between an unnamed character and Shia LaBeouf. The 28-year-old is “lurking in the shadows,” “killing for sport” and “eating all the bodies,” the song goes. But if that weren’t weird enough, the music video ends with LaBeouf giving the performance a standing ovation.

It’s all very strange, but then again so is Shia LaBeouf.

TIME Sports

This Map Shows How Big Your Football Team’s Fanbase Really Is

Cowboys fans are EVERYWHERE

Football fandom may seem obvious — Titans fans live in Tennessee, Seahawks fans live in Seattle — but as this interactive map from Twitter shows, the geographic makeup of NFL loyalties is actually pretty complicated.

To create this map, analysts determined which NFL team has the most Twitter followers in each county across the nation. Some of results make perfect sense, but other aspects of the map are pretty surprising. The Cowboys, for example, not only dominate Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas, but have pockets of fans just about everywhere.

There are several different ways to compare and contrast fan bases — so if you’re watching a football game right now, we recommend waiting till halftime to play around with the map.

 

TIME viral

This Woman Nails 25 Celebrity Impressions While Singing CeeLo’s ‘Forget You’

Fun party game

It’s hard enough to impersonate one celebrity well enough to impress friends and family. Imagine doing 25.

Meet actress and singer Christina Bianco, who sang CeeLo Green’s “Forget You” like 25 different celebrities at the Hippodrome in London on Sept. 7. Each time a star’s name is called out, she switches voices. Watch her go from impersonating Drew Barrymore to Kristin Chenoweth to Bette Midler, all in one breath. Her Celine Dion, Penélope Cruz, and Bjork impressions are especially spot-on.

Bianco is also known for singing Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the voice of famous divas like Demi Lovato and Adele, with YouTube videos that have racked up nearly 5.6 million and nearly 7 million views respectively.

Come to think of it, this might make a fun game for your next party.

TIME society

Inside the Weird World of Sexy Halloween Costumes for Dogs

And you thought sexy human costumes were strange

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Ye olde “hot” dog costume Getty images

The era of a “hot” dog costume consisting of a dachshund wrapped up in a bun is over. Welcome to an age in which people dress up their pets in sexy Halloween costumes.

For Pumpkin, a Labradoodle, his risqué 2013 ensemble came complete with fake human cleavage.

Pumpkin the dog flaunting his sexy Snooki Halloween costume Michelle Husserl

A Snooki costume might seem blasé for a person, but the tightly fitted leopard print top secured Pumpkin the first place prize for “most creative costume” at a local London pub, according to owner Michelle Husserl. “I didn’t think about it being sexy, more funny if anything, but I guess sexy costumes [for dogs] are the way forward!” she says. “He’s used to being dressed up since he was a puppy, but the cleavage he kept clawing at. He was very confused about it.”

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $350 million on their pets’ Halloween costumes in 2014, which is up from $220 million in 2010. Unfortunately the NRF doesn’t calculate how many of those pet costumes show a little extra leg.

“I don’ think we have any plans to go that specific,” says NRF senior director Kathy Grannis. “I’ll be honest, I had no idea that that existed in this world. I was shocked.”

But, as Grannis notes, there is a person-to-pet consumer trickle-down effect, providing pups with blueberry facials and other human-only luxuries. So, considering the sexy Halloween costume complex has mostly jumped the shark — there are actual sexy shark, crustacean and even whale costumes — maybe it was only a matter of time until dogs got their sexy Halloween costumes, too.

“[Our sexy] pet costumes are just an extension of what the consumer was already doing on social networks, we saw that gap, and we jumped on it,” says Alicia Brockwell of California Costume, the manufacturer of Pumpkin the Labradoodle’s Snooki outfit.

“The costume is actually called ‘The Lady is a Tramp,’ and people really love putting that on a pitbull,” she says. “One thing about the sexy costumes, is that people love putting them on the most rugged, tough dogs.”

Dog Costumes
“Pop Queen” California Costumes

California Costume’s Pup-A-Razzi line has other sexy offerings, including a gold-cone bra called the”Pop Queen” (just think Madonna) and a “Silver Screen Siren” (Marilyn Monroe).

“It’s no secret that sex sells and Hollywood is the capital of plastic surgery so it made sense to include those features where we could,” vice president of marketing and design Christopher Guzman says. “Why not give your pet what he or she has secretly been craving, at least temporarily, fake boobies!”

Costumes that feature fake cleavage come in four different sizes, ranging from extra small to large.

“The hardest part about the breastplate is maintaining the integrity of it when shipping,” Brockewell says. “So we have little tutorials and give product training where if you take a warm hairdryer, it can actually warm it up and get it to the right roundness and buoyancy as needed. Because it is a soft material so it can sit comfortably on the dog.”

Brockwell believes that the company manages to be ridiculous without crossing the line to insulting: “No one looks at it and says ‘oh I can’t believe you’re degrading this dog’s honor!'”

Grannis, of the National Retail Federation, agrees.

“Halloween is a holiday based on discretionary fun,” she says. “If there are a lot of creative people out there who think that Fido and Fluffy would look great as a sexy maid, you know, God bless ‘em for it.”

And they do:

Even Walmart stocks French Maid costumes for dogs.

Garrett Rosso, founder of New York City’s 24-year-old Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, has seen the full evolution of the sexy dog costume. The 1990’s were a simpler time. “It was all about the three M’s: Marilyn, Marlene and Madonna — oh and maybe a Chip ‘n Dale,” he says. In the last decade, however, people have upped their game.

“We had a bull dog dressed up as Katy Perry with boobs and a wig — it was a little startling,” says Rosso, who was a TIME design director before opening dog obedience training facilities. “Last year, I saw a Great Dane as Lady Gaga doing the twerking dance and a whole convention of 50 Shades of Grey.”

Matching owner/pet companion costumes are a big hit. He has seen dressed dogs in thousands of dollars worth of leather clothing, made to match their owner.

“Dogs have kind of become our giant companions, our best friends, our entrée into a healthier lifestyle,” Rosso says. “And I think Halloween is just a day when you can show off your best friend.”

And who doesn’t love a best friend who knows how to show some leg? All four of them.

Read next: 2014 Could Be the Year of the ‘Sexy Lobster’ Halloween Costume

TIME Food & Drink

The Deep-Fried Candy Corn Recipe Your Body Was Hoping You’d Never Find

Amy Erickson

This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.

Here’s a fun trick you can play on attendees’ coronary health at your upcoming Halloween party: Give ‘em deep-friend candy corn.

The recipe comes from one of our favorite fryers of things, Amy over at the blog Oh Bite It and the concoction is surprisingly simple. You can whip up these little sugar bombs with nothing more than candy corn, a roll of Pillsbury Seamless Crescent Dough and a little touch of powdered sugar “for dusting.”

Plus, you know, a giant pan full of artery clogging frying oil.

If any candy could use some help, it’s candy corn and frying it is definitely the way to go. As Amy points out on the site, each one contains a “warm, sweet and slightly chewy colorful Nougat that has transformed into just a shadow of that seasonal, sad, tooth-buster of a treat it used to be!”

Plus, they certainly beat the Necco Wafer crusted pumpkin seeds I was going to serve at my party.

More from Food & Wine:

TIME Food & Drink

These Are America’s Most “Haunted” Bars

The Jury Room in Columbus, Ohio.
The Jury Room in Columbus, Ohio Courtesy of The Jury Room

At these historic bars, spirits aren’t just on the drink menu—they’re making noises in dark corners and downing patrons’ glasses

Here’s one way to ensure a bar will be haunted: open it in a former morgue. That’s the case with Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, FL, also a former speakeasy, where you may find yourself sipping gin and tonic next to a grave—or a ghost.

“Ghosts tend to go to places they frequented when they were alive,” says California-based Loyd Auerbach, author of A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium. “Consequently, places like bars, where people gather for social reasons or for other personal reasons, are often the target sites for the disembodied.”

Every city seems to have a haunted bar and an intriguing story behind it. The ghostly presence can often be traced back to an erstwhile love affair or, sadly, the result of a grizzly murder. In Austin, TX, the victim of a bar fight has been causing mischief at The Tavern for decades, changing the TV channels or banging dishes in the kitchen. And outside of Las Vegas, a gambler killed when caught cheating still roams the poker tables at Pioneer Saloon.

Still, some ghost tales are taller than others. Jim Fassbinder, who leads ghost tours in San Francisco, says: “There’s a bunch of haunted bar stories out there mostly promoted by barkeeps who know a well-told ghost story keeps ’em drinkin’ and gets the barkeep a tip.”

Not so at Stone’s Public House in Massachusetts, where paranormal experts confirmed eerie happenings the owner had noticed. It’s one of our picks for the most haunted bars in the nation—and you might want to consider a nice tip, after all, if you want to keep the resident spirits happy.

The Ear Inn, New York City

The charmingly ramshackle interior of this old sailors’ drinking spot in SoHo is still the preferred haunt of at least one sailor, Mickey. He likes the ladies, as female patrons and employees have complained of being goosed by Mickey. And he also likes his drink; regulars have been perplexed to find pint glasses suddenly empty. In September 2014, there was a ghost sighting by a waitress’s boyfriend. They were sleeping in an upstairs room (the space used to double as an inn), and she woke up in the middle of the night to find him transfixed. When she asked what her boyfriend was doing, he said, “I’m just saying hello to the strange man standing in the corner.”

Captain Tony’s Saloon, Key West, FL

As the site of a former morgue, Captain Tony’s Saloon happens to be one of the few spots you can sip a gin and tonic next to an actual grave. There are, in fact, two here. Oh yeah, there’s also an old tree growing through the roof of the bar; according to legend, it was used to hang criminals. So it’s no wonder that bathroom doors become mysteriously locked on their own or that people regularly feel strange sensations while having a drink here.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans

The 18th-century building that houses this Bourbon Street bar is brimming with ghostly intrigue. There’s E.J., who apparently sits at the bar. There’s the woman who sometimes appears in the mirror. And then there’s Jean Lafitte himself, a former pirate who ran a smuggling business here in the 18th century—and who may have used this bar to hide his stolen loot. Patrons have apparently seen his apparition standing in a corner scowling and smelled a trace of his tobacco.

The Jury Room, Columbus, OH

It’s a bold move to build on a former Native American burial ground. Yet that’s where the Jury Room sits. Since 1831, this spot has been popular with drinkers, including the spectral kind. Regulars and employees have talked of seeing a tall shadowy man roaming the premises. Workers claim that objects regularly fly off of shelves, and one person even saw a pitcher of beer being poured by itself.

The Brass Rail, Hoboken, NJ

When a bride-to-be tripped at the top of the steps and died after breaking her neck, she ushered in a ghostly era for this Hoboken bar. Since the incident in 1904, employees have regularly seen a lady in white hovering near the steps. Note to any betrothed couples: don’t get married here.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Internet

Facebook Is Going to Be a Lot Smarter Now That Stephen Hawking Has Joined

Professor Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA, at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge..Photograph © Jason Bye.t:  07966 173 930.e: mail@jasonbye.com.w: http://www.jasonbye.com.
Stephen Hawking outside DAMTP, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Cambridge. Jason Bye / PBS

He will share his musings about the universe and existence

Today is a big day for social media. First, Queen Elizabeth II sent her first tweet, and now Stephen Hawking has posted his first Facebook message. Though the world-renowned theoretical physicist officially joined the site on Oct. 7, he didn’t share anything until today:

Hawking’s plunge into the infinite social media abyss is certainly well-timed. The Theory of Everything, the film about the scientist’s personal and professional life, comes out in just a few weeks.

Something tells us Hawking’s FB game will be pretty strong. While everybody else offers updates about what they ate for breakfast, Hawking will give us brilliant musings about the magnificence of the universe or whatever.

Read next: Queen Elizabeth II Sends Her First Tweet

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