Do you long for some cat company while travelling abroad? Perhaps you’re a cat lover who doesn’t own a cat, or a cat owner who had to leave her felines behind to go travelling. You could of course do what I do and go house and cat-sitting in foreign cities. But for a simpler solution that requires less commitment, there are always cat cafés!

The popularity of cat cafés has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years (and looks set to explode) but if you haven’t heard about the concept yet, a cat café is exactly what its name implies: a café… with cats in it. 🙂

Asia started the trend with the first cat café opening in Taipei (Taiwan) way back in 1998. Japan opened its first location in 2004. Europe followed suite. Below are five cities where you will find great cat cafés. There are more of course. A little research online should reveal if your next destination is endowed with one!

(Check out the websites listed below. Many have photos and descriptions of their cats, and even video.)

Paris: Le Café des Chats

This is is the only cat café I have visited personally (so far). My friend in Paris suggested it the last time I was in town and I thought it was a great idea.

Le Café des Chats is an intimate tea house and restaurant serving light meals in Paris’ third arrondissement (Le Marais). A dozen cats roam its two levels, dozing, grooming themselves, and visiting with patrons. The rules make it very clear that you are in the cats’ home and must not wake them or force them to stay on your knees. Nevertheless we were visited by several cats and got to pet and photograph them. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Website: http://lecafedeschats.fr (in French only – use google translate)

Ringo at Le cafe des Chats, Paris

Ringo at Le Café des Chats, Paris

London: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Across the Channel, London has its own cat café, in Shoreditch (East London). Out of the 11 cats, seven are siblings. Beside tea and coffee, they serve cakes, savoury snacks and salads. High tea can aslo be ordered at the time of booking. Due to its popularity you need to book at Lady Dinah’s several weeks in advance to get a spot. There is a 5 Pounds cover fee.

Website:  http://ladydinahs.com

Vienna: Café Neko

Hidden on a small alley in central Vienna, Café Neko houses only five cats (you can see them in this video). The cats enjoy 20 metres of ledges along the walls, a birch climbing tree, and plenty of hiding places, while their human companions can use the free WiFi. Opened by a Japanese woman, the café serves cakes, Japanese tea, juices, and of course coffee

Website: http://cafeneko.at (very basic site in German – use google translate)

Tokyo: Cat Café Calico

Japan has several dozens cat cafés by now. They are very popular due to the fact that most apartment buildings in Japan do not allow pets. Cat Café Calico is one of the more popular ones among both locals and tourists, and is located in Shinjuku, a business, entertainment and shopping area in central Tokyo. With over 50 cats, it’s a paradise for cat lovers. They do provide menus and rules printed in English, so no worries there. There is a cover fee of 1000 Yens (about $10). Read this post for more details and exact location.

Website: http://catcafe.jp  (site in Japanese – the google translation is nonsense).

Chiang Mai: Catmosphere Café

Catmosphere is a “space-themed” cat café in Northern Thailand serving high quality local coffee, pastries, and a few western homemade dishes. A dozen cats make their home here, several named after Star Wars’ characters! Since I love both cats and Sci-Fi, I’ll have to make sure I stop here next time I’m in Thailand. 🙂

Website: http://catmospherecafe.com

What about North America?

Although North America doesn’t yet have any cat cafés, some are scheduled to open very very soon! How about tomorrow? 🙂 While researching this article I indeed discovered that the first North American cat café will open its doors in Montréal on August 30, 2014, with another one following up in Toronto in September. The Montréal one will be called Le café des chats just like its namesake in Paris.

Cities to follow suit will be Vancouver, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, and many more. (Read more about it on Wikipedia.)

I would say that’s good news for all of us cat lovers!

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