Ever heard of a cat café? They’re cat-themed establishments serving drinks and maybe a little food, but the spotlight is definitely on the cats. Here are nine purrfect cat cafés to visit around the world.
Yes, these cafés are populated by cats. The way it works is you pay a fee (usually on an hourly rate) so they can pet and play with the cats in a form of ‘supervised indoor pet rental’. The café staff are usually human.
The cat café is a relatively recent phenomenon. The very first opened in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998, drawing not only locals but tourists from Japan, a famously cat-loving country. Japan got its own cat café in 2004 when the first opened in Osaka, Now there at least 39 in Tokyo alone.
Cat cafés have strict rules (for their customers) to keep their feline occupants in good health and order. For example, to make sure that the kitties are not disturbed too much, as they don’t like getting their tails pulled by small children and sometimes just want to be left alone for a snooze.
1. Cat Café Neko no Niwa – Singapore
As well as serving coffee, many cat cafés are on a mission to raise awareness of cat welfare issues, such as the plight of stray and abandoned cats. Cat Café Neko no Niwa in Singapore (‘neko’ is Japanese for cat; neko no niwa, cat garden) only adopt stray and rescue cats. Owners Sam and Sue say: “While cat cafes in Japan, Korea and Bangkok usually feature only pedigreed cats… all cats deserved to be loved, [including] the homeless and abandoned ones”. They ‘want to show that non-pedigreed cats can be beautiful and affectionate companions’. Its residents include Emma, ‘a rare find – only 15% of all white cats with blue eyes are not deaf’.
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2. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – London, England
After a campaign to open a cat café in London, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium opened in Shoreditch on 1 March 2014 with a cast of rescue cats. Meet Mue, Biscuit, Romeo and the other cats for a fee of about $8 for a two-hour session. It’s already proving hugely popular and reservations are required – it is booked up until to June, but they plan to install a ‘kitty cam’ so you can see what they’re up to from afar.
3. Le Café des Chats – Paris, France
While Parisians are better known as lovers of lap dogs than kitty cats, in 2013 Le Café des Chats opened in the Marais. It houses formerly abandoned and homeless cats, chosen for their ‘social character to the other cats and people’. Being Paris, it’s not just a tearoom, but also a restaurant, although serving charcuterie to the cats is not permitted.
4. Temari no Ouchi / Nyafe Melange – Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo’s cat cafés provide a service for the city’s many cat-loving residents who don’t have the space, or are not allowed, to keep a kitty of their own. Not only are there at least 39 cat cafés in Tokyo, but there are cafés specializing in rare breeds, black cats and… fat cats. Yes, really. Tokyo also caters for other animal-deprived souls – there are rabbit cafés too, while one cat café also has goats. Try Temari no Ouchi or Nyafe Melange, in the lovely neighborhood of Shibuya.
5. Il Neko Café – Turin, Italy
Italy’s first cat café opened in April 2014 in Vanchiglia, Turin. The cats, including silver-and-white tabby Bernard, who arrived at Il Neko ‘as black as a chimney sweep’, each have their own space, plus a special communal play room with games and lots of catnip.
6. Purrfect Cat Café – Penang, Malaysia
George Town, Penang’s trendy tech hub, has a new attraction – a cat café. Star of the show at the Purrfect Cat Café is Snowy, the café’s mascot, a white female with one blue and one green eye. Sooooooo cute!
7. Café Neko – Vienna, Austria
Vienna is the spiritual home of the coffee house, but sachertorte is not the only sweetness to be enjoyed in Vienna’s emporiums of delight. Coo over Viennese cats Sonja, Thomas, Momo, Moritz and Luca at katzen kaffeehaus Café Neko. Having a Japanese owner, it’s the place to try such traditional refreshments as bancha (Japanese roasted tea), and while sachertorte is not on the menu, apparently they do a quite magnificent chocolate cake – if spending time with Sonya isn’t sweet enough.
8. Purr Cat Café Club – Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok’s Purr Cat Café Club, owned by sitcom actress Rattanarat Uataweekul, houses 14 Persians, as well as a cat beautician and a shop selling ‘cute feline outfits’ (not sure if these are for the cats or the customers). The cat rules say ‘don’t poke them, tease them, pick them up or feed them human cake’.
9. La Gatoteca – Madrid, Spain
Much as they’d like to house many poorer, needier kitty cats, La Gatoteca can only cater for 15 furry friends, but they aim to find forever (or would it be fur-ever?) homes for all the paws that pad through their doors. Their current residents include Pulguita, a tiny street cat with a penchant for licking, and ‘beautiful blonde’ Pancho, who lived in an abandoned plot with lots of friends, until it got closed down and he had to be rescued.
Adapted from an original article by James Teideman
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