A Cat With Your Coffee?

The first cat café outside Asia has just opened and is already a hit.

Café Neko (Neko is the Japanese word for cat) is in Vienna, Austria, and opened only after three years of negotiations with city authorities. Six shelter cats — Moritz, Luca, Haru, Momo, Sonia and Thomas — are resident and patrons can play with and stroke the cats. The cats have their own private spaces, including baskets and shelves if they get tired of all the attention.

Joint café owner Takako Ishimitsu says that for many who, for whatever reason, cannot have a cat at home, it’s perfect and great relaxing therapy.

“I had various ideas, and the cat café project was the least difficult to realize. And at the same time, I can do something good for the Vienna animal shelter which I have been supporting for years,” Ishimitsu said.

The world’s first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998. After it proved a hit with Japanese tourists, a café was opened in Osaka and now there are 39 in Tokyo.

Unlike in Vienna, in Tokyo you pay a cover fee, generally hourly. Like in Vienna, dogs are banned.

Some feature specific categories of cat such as black cats, fat cats, rare breed cats or ex-stray cats. A Japanese cat café must obtain a license and comply with the strict requirements and regulations of the Animal Treatment/Protection Law.

However, as we reported in March, the future of those cafés may be under threat due to a law change. The law puts a curfew on cat cafés forcing them to close at 8p.m. instead of 10p.m.

Café owners say the felines sleep all day and come to life in the evenings when customers arrive for playtime. They worry about how they will provide for their animals if business falls off.

Commented Llewellyn Sinclair on coffee news website Sprudge.com:

omg omg omg omg. Turns out dreams do come true.

We can’t wait to spend time at Cafe Neko while in Vienna for the 2012 World Barista Championship.

Watch a BBC report:

Related stories:

Cat Cafes, Popular Japan Hangouts (Video)

Dishwashing Cat! (Video)

What Do You Do When You Inherit 18 Cats?


Picture: BBC screengrab

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney6 months ago

Thai is awesome, hope they don't try and drink the coffee like Saff does with me, when I turn my back. Hahaha

Mary T.
Mary T.2 years ago

Good idea

Shannon M.
Shannon Moody2 years ago

That is awesome!

Dale Overall

Delightful! There are many restaurants especially in France and other parts of Europe allowing dogs to join in the dining experience, some even provide food for the canines on the menu.

A place allowing the purr-resence of cats is wonderful and obviously most of the clientele would appreciate cats or go elsewhere.

Worry not Alice, cats are not inclined to stick their heads into your mug of cocoa. For the most part cats have little interest in the cocoa bean. Once a skunk practically dove into my large glass of chocolate milk and also a container filled with earwigs but cats are somewhat more restrained when dining with strangers. The skunk was not in a restaurant of course, but out side.

Rosa Cruz
Rosa Cruz3 years ago

o, great idea...
if there was a neko café here, I'd sooooo be a resident!

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Dianne D.
Dianne D.3 years ago

I love it. They need more cats than just 4. Hope these cats find a forever owner, so other cats can be saved and brought in. To me, a cat makes a home. They are the soul of a home.

Grainne O'Carroll
Grainne OCarroll3 years ago

Fantastic idea!

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright3 years ago

Thank goodness these cafes are for playing with the kitties and not serving them as part of their menu.......which is more typical of these Asian countries.

If I went to one of these cafes I would not want to leave.

Marcia Machado
Marcia Machado3 years ago

Great idea.