Many urban dwellers lead stressful lives. Relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea while petting a friendly cat is therapeutic, but city life can mean restrictions on owning cats in rented houses or apartments. That's why cat cafes — coffee shops where cats roam free and socialize with customers — are gaining popularity all over the world. Cat cafes allow anyone to unwind with a feline friend. From New York City to Vienna, here are 10 cat cafes from the around the globe.
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Location: London, England
Named after Alice's cat in "Alice in Wonderland," Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is London's first cat cafe. After raising close to $187,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, owner Lauren Pears opened the doors on March 1, 2014, and has been booked solid ever since. She charges around $8.50 to sit and unwind in the cafe with its resident cats for two hours. The cats all were donated by people leaving the country but were unable to take their pets with them.
Location: New York City
This "pop-up" cat cafe, which the Purina One brand of cat food sponsored, was open for only four days, but it was the first cat cafe to open in North America. There were plenty of cats in residence, all of which were available for adoption through the North Shore Animal League. The cafe served complimentary "cat'achinos" and featured a "Cat Chat" speaker series led by cat behaviorists, veterinarians and other cat experts. The goal was to discuss cat health and encourage adoptions. Customers waited in line for hours to spend time inside interacting with the cats and enjoying the cafe's beverages.
Location: Paris, France
France's first cat cafe opened in September 2013. Owner Margaux Gandelon has structured his cafe as a welcoming tearoom with cats as an added bonus. There is no hourly fee, but due to the cafes popularity, patrons must make reservations. The cafe's cats all were rescued via an animal protection society, and will live out their lives in the cafe. Le Cafe des Chats has been such a hit in Paris that a second branch elsewhere in France is being considered.
Location: San Francisco
KitTea doesn't actually exist yet, but Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky hope to open their cat cafe in San Francisco. Although the pop-up cat cafe in New York City claimed the honor of the first one in the U.S., KitTea would be the country's first permanent cat cafe. A crowdfunding campaign has been a main contributor to making the dream a reality. Hatt and Braginsky have encountered many roadblocks from city officials, and have struggled to find a location, but they are close to making a deal, and hope to announce an opening date very soon. They are partnering with local rescue organizations to bring in adoptable cats. Following the model of many other cat cafes, reservations will be necessary to visit KitTea.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Owner Takako Ishimitsu brought the idea of a cat cafe with her to Vienna from Japan. It took her three years to negotiate Cafe Neko's opening with city officials concerned about hygiene in the establishment, but she eventually succeeded. As the first cat cafe in Vienna, it is appropriately named — "neko" means "cat" in Japanese. There are five cats in residence, all of which were adopted from a local animal shelter. Ishimitsu opened her cafe with the idea of letting people socialize with cats if they can't own any themselves. Visitors are allowed to feed the felines and play with them to their heart's content. However, there is a strict "no dogs allowed" policy at Cafe Neko.
Location: Turin, Italy
MiaGola Caffe, which is translated as Cafe Meow, is Italy's first cat cafe. American owner Andrea Levine opened the establishment with a purpose in mind. She wanted to promote a message of "we rescue cats in trouble." Her hopes are to teach respect for animals and to encourage adoption. The cats in residence are all rescued strays, and the cafe plays video promotions from local animal shelters.
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Owners Anita and Myles Loughran came up with the idea of opening a cat cafe in Australia after visiting one in Tokyo on their honeymoon. The couple has run multiple funding campaigns to raise the money necessary for their establishment. Although they faced resistance from the Melbourne City Council, the animal management department was eager to see the cafe in business. Many students studying abroad in Melbourne miss their own pets, and adopt cats while living there. Sadly, the students often abandon these pets when their academic programs end. The Loughrans hope that their cafe, which is due to open this month, will serve as a place for students to visit cats instead of adopting their own while in Melbourne. The cafe's cats will come from rescue shelters, and will have a permanent home in the cafe. The price will be $10 for the first hour, and $5 for every additional 30 minutes, but there will be no time limit on how long visitors can stay. However, they will not be allowed to feed the cats or wake them up if they are sleeping.
Location: Munich, Germany
Germany's first cat cafe, aptly named "Cat Temple," houses rescued cats from animal welfare organizations. Patrons are free to play with and pet any of the felines. Owner Thomas Leidner opened the cafe after visiting one in Vienna. He is a supporter of animal protection rights, and serves only vegetarian items on the menu. The cafe also annually donates a portion of its earnings to animal charities, supporting the efforts to help animals in need.
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Location: Himeji, Japan
This establishment originally opened as a regular cat cafe, but it reopened in September 2013 as a "black cats only" cafe. It is believed to be the first black-cats-only cafe. There is a charge of roughly $10 for one hour of play with the cat. An extra 30 minutes costs about $5. Visitors are not allowed to pick up and hold the cats, but they can pet them in moderation. This rule is in place to help the cats avoid undue stress.
Next: Top 10 Cat Cities in the World
Location: Madrid, Spain
Spain's first cat cafe offers customers a free beverage while they interact with the cats. All cats in the cafe are available for adoption. La Gatoteca charges about $8 for one hour of play time with the cats in residence. Feeding is not allowed, but photos are permitted so long as flashes are turned off.