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Hamburg’s FURRRst Cat Café.

Hamburg’s FURRRst Cat Café

The Eimsbüttel district in Hamburg welcomes its very first cat café. Following Munich and Nuremberg, this is the third “Katzentempel” to open its doors. In this restaurant, guests can eat, drink or casually snack vegan products all day in the company of six lovely cats. This idea came to the owner Rilana Rentsch overnight: “I found the concept of animal welfare and gastronomy great”. Indeed, the six cats were adopted from the shelter.

It's been a very fashionable phenomenon for a little over 5 years. The "cat cafés", these cafés or tea rooms, where felines live amid customers, are appearing in more and more cities around the world. Originating in Asia, the concept gained popularity in Japan, where these lounges are called "Neko Café". In big Japanese cities, there is little to no room for domestic animals, so the Japanese people particularly enjoy a small session with the cats around a drink or a pastry. And since then, many Western countries have adopted the idea. Paris, Lyon, but also Vienna, London, New York, Melbourne ... Cats are now everywhere!

Even though the idea of a café where cats are just roaming around freely sounds simple, a huge number of sanitary and ethical constraints for the owners of the premises are required. First of all, animals must not have access to the food preparation area. Walls and doors keeping the cats outside the kitchen need to be installed. The dishes for the human service must be stored in different places than those for the animals. In these cafés, it is the feline companions who reign and everything must be done for their safety and comfort. Harassing them, waking them up, and giving them any food or beverages is strictly forbidden. Additionally, the entrances are supervised by the employees so that no cat can leave the safe premises of the café.

The Calming Influence of Cats

But why is this concept so successful? According to Anita Loughran, owner of the Melbourne Cat Café, those places allow cat lovers and animal friends to meet, socialize and get comfortable in a quiet environment that reflects their interest. Thomas Leidner, owner of the Café Katzentempel in Munich explains that the popularity of these cat cafés is probably since many people are not allowed, or do not have the opportunity, to have animals in town. In the cities, life is often frantic and noisy. The cat bars are therefore a real oasis of calmness and appeasement for many city dwellers.

These cat bars are so successful that customers must often wait before they can enter, so the café doesn’t not become too crowded. The London's Cat Emporium now has a reservation system, because 20 000 people wish to have some food or beverages in the presence of the cats, but the café offers just 30 seats. While there may have been doubts about the well-being of the cats when the café was opened, the main concern now is about the customers. Because once they are comfortably sat down with a good book and a purring cat nearby, they seem to have a lot of trouble leaving the company of the felines.

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