Cafe Katzentempel, in Munich’s university district, is Germany’s first cat cafe – a phenomenon that originated in Taiwan in 1998. The Japanese thought this to be a wonderful idea, and Tokyo is currently home to around forty cat cafes. The target group is primarily people whose lives prevents them from owning pets, and thus the cafe allows them to spend time enjoying a coffee and a feline fix.
Last year, the trend took off in Europe – Germany now has two cat cafes (the second being the unfortunately named Pee Pees Katzencafe, in Neukölln, Berlin). The UK’s first cat cafe (in Devon) opened around the same time as Cafe Katzentempel, and in autumn, cat cafes opened in both Madrid and Paris – with the Parisian cafe being such a hit, they were completely booked up for the first couple of months.
Science has proven that cats can aid relaxation. Various studies have attested that stroking pets can reduce blood pressure levels, lower stress and provide a soothing feeling. The sound of cats purring is also meant to help lower your heart rate and diminish stress levels.
As a side note, @HonorableHusband sent me this article on Twitter, which explains that the pet cafe phenomenon has grown, and is no longer limited to cats – there are now snake and owl cafes in Japan. Completely bonkers, and rather sad, since I doubt that petting owls offers any scientifically proven stress reduction, and must leave normally nocturnal owls with soaring stress levels.
I found myself in Germany’s first cat cafe, Cafe Katzentempel, on a cold Sunday afternoon with two friends. One of them, Cath, an experienced cat cafe fan, the other, Tash, a firm cat-lover, having owned at least half a dozen cats over the years. And then there was me, bewildered but intrigued.
The concept is simple – you must not pick up the cats, but should they come to you, you are more than welcome to pet them. The cats (there are six of them) have a backroom, where they can go and hang out if it all gets a bit much with the adoring visitors. There were a couple of Siamese cats too, which were gorgeous, but my favourite was Ayla, a hairy red-head who was rather taken with Tash’s warm coat.
The whole cat experience was rather lovely, and the food was surprisingly good too. A friend of mine refuses to visit the cat cafe, insisting it’s unhygienic, and she doesn’t fancy plucking cat hairs from her cake. Thankfully, the cakes are in a vitrine, and the cats showed very little interest in my chocolate mousse. Which was really, really good:
The cafe also does savory dishes – and all of them vegetarian. They range from a veggie Weißwurst breakfast to soups, salads, vegetable curries and sandwiches.
Yet, while the food was good, the service was slow. Tash pointed out that it felt more like a clowder of cat lovers realised they were rather good at confectionary, decided to make their cats their living, and thus opened a cat cafe. Experience of working in gastronomy is definitely lacking. We waited around half an hour to get the bill, and we spent a good five or ten minutes waiting to be seated when we entered.
It was an interesting experience, and for the novelty factor, it was rather fun. I’d be more than happy to return to spend some time with Ayla and friends.