By Sarah Teczar
Videos of cats knocking things off tables and viral kitten memes abound in our Facebook newsfeeds. But if you don’t have a cat (or left one behind at home) and crave some real-life feline entertainment, it might be easier to find than you think.
Cat cafes are popping up all over the world. For an entry fee or the purchase of a latte, you can play with and feed the cats. It is said that petting animals reduces stress and lowers blood pressure, so these venues offer a little dose of this therapy—along with your caffeine. According to Forbes.com, the world’s first cat cafe opened in 1998 in Taiwan. Osaka, Japan, followed suit in 2004. The trend began to spread, especially throughout Asia, and in 2014 cat cafes arrived in several U.S. cities.
I had first heard of cat cafes a couple of years ago, when I saw ads for a “pop-up” cat cafe in Boston’s trendy South End. I went to check it out, but the line was out the door. It seemed that all of the cats’ schedules were completely booked.
I was intrigued.
So when I came across Cafe-Katzentempel on a recent trip to Munich, Germany, my curiosity compelled me to go in. A cat cafe in the land of beer halls and sausage shops? It was too bizarre.
The atmosphere of Cafe-Katzentempel was chill and cozy. It was naptime for most of the cats, but some were playful and one trotted across a neighboring table. My fiance and I explored and said hi to the purring fur-balls before settling in with our drinks. After an hour we left the cafe feeling relaxed and happy.
These establishments benefit the animals, too. They get food, plenty of love and maybe even a permanent home. Many cafes have the cats up for adoption or donate proceeds to animal welfare organizations. In Tokyo and Osaka, where many apartment buildings have rules forbidding pets, city-dwellers come in droves to escape the stresses of their jobs and urban life.
And it doesn’t stop at cats. Animalcafes.com lists venues where you can pet an owl while you sip your cappuccino, or share a cup of hot tea with a rabbit. If you’re an animal lover, check out a cat cafe on your next trip for a truly unique experience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Teczar is a Boston-based writer pursuing her M.F.A. in fiction at Emerson College. A Francophile and lover of languages, she enjoys breaking down preconceived notions by traveling and meeting new people. Follow her @sarahteczar.
Cat photo via Shutterstock