Most people are excited to visit Asia to enjoy the beaches, eat insanely cheap and delicious food, or to try and “find themselves.” Me? I couldn’t wait to go to Asia so I could finally go to a cat cafe.
Anyone who knows me or follows me on social media knows that I absolutely adore cats. Before I left the States to go to South Korea for a year, I knew that my cats were the two things I would likely miss most. (Junior Mints, flavored coffee creamer, and my mom were right behind.)
I didn’t know how I, a cat lady, was going to survive my time away from them. I did manage to find a few ways, which you can read more . However, one of the best ways that helped me get through my cat withdrawals while living in Asia was visiting a cat cafe.
What is a cat cafe?
When I first told my mom I visited a cat cafe in South Korea, she was a little hesitant. But what a relief it was when I told her it was actually a cafe filled with real-life cats roaming the place, and that I wasn’t having them as my meal.
The ingenious idea of drinking coffee while playing with cats started in Taiwan in 1998. The cafes quickly took off in in Japan, and inevitably spread to South Korea. Fortunately for this cat lady, it so happened that the city we were living in, Daegu, had a pet cafe. This cafe wasn’t only limited to cats, but dogs as well.
[Side note: I didn’t know there was an Amish skirt trend among Korean women until I visited a pet cafe. Then I realized the cafe provides them to prevent (or what I assume, anyway) from the animals jumping on them and getting fur on their clothing.]
How does it work?
Well, it works pretty much the same way a normal cafe would work. We walked in, ordered a coffee (or tea, in Daniel’s case) at the counter, and entered a separate room with the cats. There were the usual coffee and tea selections, along with some baking treats.
Unlike other cafes, there was a cat sitting on the counter, I had to take off my outside shoes in exchange for some communal slippers, and had to pay a little bit more for a latte than I normally would. (Give or take around $8USD.)
But I didn’t mind. After all, there were going to be cats! And there were plenty of cats everywhere–on the table, on the floor, under the chairs, high up on a wooden perch, playing in their cat houses, and looking for treats.
It was absolute bliss, I tell you!
It should be said that I hadn’t pet a cat since I left Florida in December. I encountered plenty of strays over the months in Thailand, but this would be the first time in about four months (and that’s a long time for a cat lady!) that I’d finally get to pet one or two or three.
We spent over a year traipsing around Asia, and visited a cat cafe surprisingly only three times: twice in South Korea and once in Bangkok, Thailand. Both cafes had a list of rules regarding the cats, and were pretty similar. (Maybe there is a cat cafe convention where all cat cafe owners go to discuss the rules. You know, to make them universal.)
It essentially stated the obvious–be nice to them.
- Pick up the cats.
- Touch any that have ribbons tied on them. (They are likely sick.)
- Let them approach you.
- Give them treats. (I learned it was the secret to getting the cats to come to you.)
- Have fun because you’re in a place where you get to play with a whole bunch of cats in a lovely setting, almost as if you’re back at home. But here’s the best part: you don’t need to clean the litter box. (I imagine it’s a lot like being an aunt and uncle. You get to return the child once you’re done with them. And in this case, I was returning the cats.)
Would I visit another cat cafe? Hell, yes. It was the perfect opportunity to escape Asia’s humidity, sit in an air-conditioned building, and get my cat fix on while drinking iced coffee from a mason jar. What better way to spend your Thursday afternoon?
I would say if I had to choose between which country did their cat cafes better, Korea or Thailand, I’d say I much preferred the one in Bangkok. It felt more cafe rather than so…pet shop. Plus, the cats seemed more keen on approaching us, and they looked nicer.
They were big, fluffy, and the perfect type of cat you want to stroke.