UPDATE! In August, 2017 I launched a new website devoted to cat cafe reviews in my quest to visit every single one in the world. So far, I've been to 101 out of approximately 260. I would love it if you checked it out at THENEIGHBORSCAT.COM!
Visiting cat cafes has kinda become our thing.
Not content to just drop in once or twice as a novelty, we traveled to four more European cities with cat cafes since my last cat cafe review post.
So, grab your beverage of choice and lock yourself away from the world for a bit, because the cuteness begins NOW!
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA: Miau
Cat Cuteness: 10
Food & Drink Quality: 8.5
Staff Friendliness: 10
OVERALL SCORE: 9
What the good folks at Miau are doing is so commendable, they should get an award. More shelter than cat cafe, these Romanian angels have taken in all kinds of abused and abandoned cats, and have created a little slice of kitty heaven.
We decided to save the best for last. After six days in Bucharest and a strange outing at the Palace of Parliament that morning, the afternoon was dedicated to visiting Miau. It was cloudy and less hot than previous days, so we decided to walk the just-under 2 mile distance from the Palace, which took about 40 minutes due to several heavy traffic intersections.
Once we arrived, we had to do a double take. The area is not commercial and we had to carefully consult our GPS to determine that, yes, we were in the correct spot. The name of the cafe is spray painted onto the exterior wall which is decidedly low frills.
But once through the gate, things perked up immediately. Colorful flower boxes and lush green plants ringed the sidewalk leading to the entrance. We could see the cats resting on the indoor window sills.
A young man with the appearance of a modern day hippie greeted us and took our drink order. We chatted with our friendly barista while he made our iced soy lattes (the cafe is vegan) and told us the story of Miau. In addition to the cafe, there is also a room for rent upstairs via Airbnb. They don't turn any cats away and all donations go towards caring for their needs.
Drinks in hand, we stepped into cat utopia. The cafe has a comfortable, Bohemian vibe with cozy pillows on the floor, colorful walls and hand painted tables. We had the whole place, and fourteen cats, to ourselves!
While some were a bit skittish, most were very friendly; the kittens were especially playful and adorable.
This was the most cat interaction we have had in our eight visits across Europe and we felt very welcome to stay as long as we liked. While the prices for the drinks were a little high for Bucharest ($5 for two iced lattes), we ended up donating much more than that because we saw first hand how many homeless cats live in Bucharest during our daily walks.
With cute, comfy surroundings and plenty of clearly loved and cared-for cats, Miau deserves high marks overall and is well worth a visit.
LISBON, PORTUGAL: Aqui Ha Gato
Cat Cuteness: 9
Food & Drink Quality: 9.5
Staff Friendliness: 9
OVERALL SCORE: 9
We visited Aqui Ha Gato after a particularly strenuous day of walking out to Belem, about six miles west of the city. After catching a bus back, we decided to power up the hilly street to revive our weary souls with a little kitty love.
What I noticed immediately about this facility was the genius separation between the cats and the cafe. The cat side is filled with comfortable seating and cat toys, while the cafe side is immaculately clean with modern furnishings and fast wifi.
It was late afternoon and there were four cats that were a bit low on energy, mostly napping, but that did make for some super cute photo ops.
We ordered the drink special of the day, two lemonades for €6. With a plenty of quality snacks and beverages, a decent number of cats, plus a variety of cat/non-cat seating, this is a certainly place you could hunker down for a few hours. Highly recommended.
MADRID, SPAIN: La Gatoteca
Cat Cuteness: 9
Food & Drink Quality: 5
Staff Friendliness: 8
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5
The space is huge and their hearts even bigger.
We were in Madrid for a language program and had just spent a lovely afternoon getting to know our fellow volunteers, but we had cat on the brain. When everyone ordered another round of drinks, we escaped to the streets of central Madrid to find our prize.
The walk from the Puerta del Sol took about twenty minutes and was a city walker's delight, filled with bustling streets and many shops, restaurants and curiosities.
Close to Museo Prado, La Gatoteca's location is also vibrant, but once inside, a quiet hush fell over us. The staff manning the desk were friendly, yet professional, and dressed in scrubs. Initially, I thought I had made a mistake and found a veterinary clinic. It wasn't the vets, but this was definitely more cat than cafe.
Turns out, La Gatoteca is the physical location of the ABRIGA Association, a rescue group with a mission to place cats that have failed to be adopted from other shelters. The wall in the lobby has an impressive pictorial compilation of cats that have found their forever homes because of La Gatoteca!
In addition to helping abused cats recover, La Gatoteca provides educational courses on cat care as well as assisted therapy for the disabled. Did I say how I love these people?
The desk attendant placed bracelets on our wrists denoting the hour, as you only pay for the time you spend with the cats. One hour is €6 and 30 minutes is €4 with anything in between prorated by the minute. Your fee includes a free beverage- a selection of bottled drinks such as water, soda and chocolate milk.
La Gatoteca has two levels, but we sat upstairs in a huge room with about ten cats and four other visitors. The room is rather vast (for a cat cafe) and filled with kitty equipment and playful cats.
I enjoyed my experience at La Gatoteca, but if I had to nitpick, it would be that the staff were maybe a touch overattentive. It felt like they were hovering a bit, as though 'supervising' the patrons.
Don't let that deter you, however! The excellent work that they do, plus the sheer number of cats means you should definitely seek out La Gatoteca when in Madrid.
MUNICH, GERMANY: Cafe Katzentempel
Cat Cuteness: 7.5
Food & Drink Quality: 9.5
Staff Friendliness: 8
OVERALL SCORE: 7
As beautiful and clean as this place is, it's probably the most disappointing experience we have had in terms of feline access. If you are looking for kitty love, be aware that Cafe Katzentempel is definitely more cafe than cat.
One Sunday morning towards the end of our December visit to Munich, we took the metro to the Universitat station and walked a few bitterly cold blocks to the cafe. Inside, it was warm and inviting. The cafe looked new with modern decor. Patrons were having brunch and the food looked excellent. However...
...there were only two cats in the entire place.
They were cuties to be sure, but with 20+ customers, it was a fairly inadequate number. According to the website, they have six cats, but after much hunting, we only spotted a pair of furry friends.
The website also indicates their cats are rescues and if they require privacy, it is to be respected. So perhaps the other cats were having some alone time in the back?
We settled into a corner table and ordered two lattes and a pretzel for €10. I photographed both of the cats in the room, and they seemed happy and content. The other patrons either did not see them or pretended not to see them, as I was the only goofy picture taker in the whole joint. I admire their sophisticated resolve to 'act like you've been there.'
Me? I lost all sense of tourist-taking-photos embarrassment long ago.
Cafe Katzentempel is a lovely place and certainly worth a visit, just temper your expectations in the cat department. It was much more cafe than cat, and it felt a little like you'd be making a scene if you wanted to play or visit with either of the cats.
Thanks for reading!
Next time on Gobsmacked: I Love Thailand