The Cat Cafes of France, Part III

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If I haven't said it enough, I'll say it again; France, and its cat cafes are first-rate!

The Neighbor's Cat visited ten French cat cafes in November, 2017 and is considered the highlight of my cat travels.  You see, in France, they don't just settle for a few cute kitties and a cup of coffee, they give you the full French cafe experience, complete with charming atmosphere and fabulous food. 

Today, we will journey to Lille, in the northwest, and finish our tour in Paris. 

I hope you have enjoyed meeting the fine felines of France!

Cat-See-Live:  Au Chat Voir Vivre, Lille

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Au Chat Voir Vivre is another example of a great French cafe that also happens to have cats. 

The space is stylish and completely unique with lovely dark wood floors, mix-and-match chairs and lots of books.  The vibe is shabby chic with equal measures of sophistication and coziness set to a soundtrack of lively chatter.  Everything about it made me feel so happy.

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There are eight cats, all rescues, in permanent residence at Au Chat Voir Vivre (loosely translated as 'Cat See Live'), but most were sleeping during my visit.  The few that were awake were not particularly social but cute to watch while sipping a hot beverage.  

Speaking of which, my coffee and pear tart were outstanding and beautifully presented on a colorful tray and served in eclectic china.  I loved how everything about this cafe felt authentic, effortless and so very French, right down to the cups!  The menu has a substantial offering of hot and cold drinks plus patisserie, and they also serve a lunch service featuring a plat du jour.

My afternoon at Au Chat Voir Vivre was an incredibly satisfying experience and an easy day trip from Paris, too, as the high speed TGV train to Lille is a mere hour.  See cats and live?  Yes, but seeing the French countryside on the way to Lille is a life-affirming bonus.

Kitty of Light:  Le Cafe des Chats, Paris

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Izmir makes Le Cafe des Chats worth every effort.

The first time we attempted to visit, the line to get in was down the block.  We returned a week later on a Wednesday morning and while several tables were occupied, we were able to be seated immediately.  That's when we saw her, our Izmir.

This fair feline with the exotic name and split color eyes stole our hearts. 

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The cafe, which opened in 2013, has twelve rescued cats in residence, although we counted nine the day we arrived, a variety of short and long-haired kitties.  None were terribly social, but that may have been due to the number of children in the cafe, sweet things, but with their loud voices and running around, unfortunately sent the cats to their hiding spots.  

The staff have more of a hands-off approach, typical of a Parisian cafe.  Despite the steady flow of non-French speaking tourists, they are far more pleasant than you might except.  

While waiting for our meal to arrive I took in the ambience of the cafe, a vintage library-inspired space with antique-esque salon furnishings, it has a classic, yet quirky nonchalance that feels very French (although a bit catty, so allergy sufferers beware). We thoroughly enjoyed our platter of mini desserts, pot of tea and a chocolat chaud a l'ancienne (old-fashioned hot chocolate) that was particularly decadent.  

It was a fairly standard experience until the very end.  We had our eyes on Izmir the whole time, but who wouldn't, she's so pretty to look at!  But as she fastened her gaze on us, we moved to the couch where she was perched and to our delight, she climbed into our laps for some cuddle time.  It was truly one of the highlights of the ten cat cafes we toured in France!

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Located in Paris, the most visited city in the world, and in the tourist mecca of Marais and Bastille, Le Cafe des Chats certainly can't help but be a busy place.  The location, plus unique environment and traditional French foodservice make it the ideal place to sit and watch the cats, but your experience will surely be more feline-friendly if you drop by during a less busy time.  

Say hello to Izmir for me!

Mallow Cute:  Chat Mallows Cafe, Paris

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Chat Mallows has some extremely handsome cats... and one dog.

We booked reservations for late afternoon and made our way to Gare Montparnasse.  From there, it was a pleasant thirteen minute walk to the cafe, winding between the 14th and 15th arrondissements.

Checking in, we received a pleasant greeting from the staff.  We weren't charged an entrance fee, but instead ordered two cups of coffee that were served in darling Chat Mallow branded cups delivered on a cat tray amidst pink and white Chamallow, a brand of French marshmallows that clearly is the inspiration behind the name Chat Mallows!

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Once seated, I couldn't help but smile  The cafe is very cute, with yellow and blue striped walls that evoke an old-fashioned candy shop.  I especially loved the adorable decor accents such as the Chat Mallow pillows and photos of cats dressed in classic French attire!  The tables are a bit close together, but better to get to know your fellow cat lovers.  Most importantly, it's a feline-friendly space with plenty of cushioned perches for the kitties to peek down from.  

Sixteen cats, a variety of pedigreed pussycats are in residence at Chat Mallows, including five Devon Rex who were napping together during our visit.  My favorites included Jerico, a chubby white British shorthair, Lourse, a gorgeous Maine Coon and Yoda, a sweet Sphinx.

The kitties weren't particularly social, but absolutely entertaining, walking around the room and looking at the guests with curiosity.  The dog was an interesting fixture that I haven't seen in my cat cafes visits around the world (at least not until Taiwan!).  He was mild-mannered and enjoyed being petted, but being tied up in the middle of the floor made it feel a bit crowded.

Overall, Chat Mallows is a charming cafe with plenty of beautiful cats to admire and I would recommend a stop if you happen to be strolling the neighborhood and in need of a coffee break.  

 

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, entertaining articles and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cat cafe cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (186 in 28 countries so far) in the world, we are passionate about cat travel and raising awareness for rescue and adoption.  Facebook/Twitter @catcafereviews

The Cat Cafes of France, Part II

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Last time, we visited four cat cafes across France, and I hope you enjoyed their delightful charms.

Today, we will travel to three more feline focused coffee shops, all stylish, yet different in their approach.  One features rescue kitties available for adoption, while another hosts a clowder of pedigreed Maine Coons, and the third splits the middle with a combination of street and posh cats.

First up is Ronron Cafe, which proved to me that focus on rescue/adoption and a quality cafe experience are not mutually exclusive.

One of the Best:  Ronron Cafe, Reims

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Zoe, a petite tabby, curiously sniffed my arm, which seemed like a distraction technique but instead of heading for the whipped cream on top of my chocolate tart, she nudged my hand as if to say ‘Make yourself useful.’  I obliged her with a rub around the ears while taking another sip of Darjeeling tea. 

While Zoe and I bonded, I observed the other patrons.  Two teens left their sodas untouched as they moved from cat to cat cooing and petting.  A middle-aged woman eating lunch grinned happily as a long-haired tuxedo kitty slept next to her.  A young couple seated far away from the other guests held hands over Leo, a huge white cat that decided to make their table his afternoon nap location.

Simple, everyday moments are extra special at Ronron, one of the best cat cafes in the world.

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Everything about it made me feel just so happy.  The first thing you notice is how cheerful and stylish it is with colorful neon green cushions popping against the light brown slate walls, wooden floors and white chairs & tables.  In a tongue-in-cheek homage to the famed Reims Cathedral one wall prominently features a mural of the cathedral adorned not with saints, but of cartoon cats. 

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Once seated in my cozy corner, the kitties came over to greet me as soft instrumental music played overhead.  It was pure cat cafe bliss.

Speaking of the cats, there were ten the day I visited, all rescues and available for adoption.  I was delighted at how sweet and loving they were, and apparently they responded to the merry vibe as much I did.  In addition to Zoe, I made friends with Paty, an elfin-like black & white cutie, Speedy, a handsome white and tabby boy and Luna, a Zoe look-alike.  

Roxane, owner of Ronron Cafe, has thoughtfully created not just a pretty atmosphere for humans, but one focused on feline well-being.  Having previously volunteered with a cat welfare association before opening her cafe, she's developed a keen understanding of cats and their behaviors.  Today, she has specific requirements for the organizations (she works with several) that supply cats to the café, mainly that they are well-socialized and enjoy being around people. 

She goes one step further by requesting adults (vs. kittens) with short hair or less attractive features (missing eye, etc) that might prevent them from being adopted in a traditional shelter.  This approach combined with the relaxed environment has successful, resulting in over 22 adoptions since the cafe opened in March, 2017.

It's not just the physical space and kitties that earn five paw scores, the food is outstanding as well.  Ronron offers a full menu with daily specials and extensive list of specialty teas.  I selected a bacon and cheese quiche with salad followed by the aforementioned decadent chocolate caramel tart and cup of Darjeeling, all prepared and served by Roxane's mother Martine, who is a talented chef. 

Ronron is located in the beautiful and historic city of Reims, which is also famed for being the unofficial capital of the Champagne region.  An easy day trip from Paris, a visit to Reims and Ronron would be recommended even if you weren't a cat lover.

But when sweet Zoe nudges your hand, I suspect you might change your mind.  

Au Revoir les Chats Doux: Review of Le Chat L'Heureux Bar a Chats 

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Autumn was a busy time for The Neighbor's Cat with a whopping 48 cat cafe visits in three months.  As such, I've been a bit backlogged writing reviews.

When I finally pulled up the notes for Le Chat L'Heureux in Nantes, I was excited because my visit was incredible.  The cats, the food, the facility, the staff-- my experience was superior in every way and it's much more fun writing positive reviews.

So you can imagine my devastation when I learned that they are closing on January 27, 2018.  Per their website, the lessor has sold the building and the cats will enjoy 'retirement'.

I really want to let the owner and staff to know how special their cafe is, and how impressed I remain to this day.  Le Chat L'Heureux is not just one of the best in France, but one of the best in the world.

When I arrived just after the cafe's noon opening, I was greeted by Loriane, who gave me quick and friendly run-down of the rules as she seated me in the main cafe area, a casual, yet elegant space with an original 18th century stone wall. 

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I studied the menu and was impressed with the selections, a variety of soups, entrees and plats du jour, plus wine, coffee and an enormous selection of specialty teas.  I quickly placed my order and turned my attention to the supermodels of Le Chat L'Heureux, the cats.     

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A combination of pedigrees and rescues, the six felines of Le Chat L'Heureux (French for 'The Happy Cat') have been permanent residents since the cafe opened in April, 2015.  All are nearly three years old, a deliberate effort to socialize them from a young age into a cohesive clowder.  There is Ulysses, a curious ragdoll with piercing blue eyes and his brother Titus who likes to keep a distance--a better vantage to be admired, I reckon.  Cesar, is a drop-dead gorgeous (and rare) red point Birman with the fluffiest tail I have ever seen and rounding out the posh cats is Junon, a pretty, but shy British Shorthair, the only girl amongst these boys.  Then, there are the moggies- Lucky, a black and white former street cat that loves people and Luxor, a gray tabby that found himself homeless after his owner went to a nursing home, but is now a cat cafe celebrity that loves a belly rub,  L'Heureux's owner worked with Association Griffes to find Lucky and Luxor.

In between kitty love, I was able to discover that the owner is a former professor who wanted a career change and sought to create a cat cafe where beautiful felines lived, including rarer pedigrees that most people would not normally see.   I also found out that the space the cafe occupies is part of an historic building, which tilts a bit, (as do many of the buildings in this part of Nantes).  Back in the day, coins were placed between the uneven stones and mortar to monitor the leaning, a cultural vestige that is still in practice today.  

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I learned all of this and much more from Loriane, the charming host, who is also a student, but more importantly, an incredible story teller.  She spun hilarious tales of the cats adventures at night with Loriane herself narrating the thoughts of the cats.  

I'm certain I haven't had a more entertaining experience in a cat cafe.  

Adding to my delight, lunch was simply divine-- a hearty butternut squash soup topped with swiss cheese and homemade croutons, with a light Darjeeling tea and decadent minis for dessert. 

As I finish this review, I am painfully reminded that this wonderful cat cafe will have closed.  

Thank you, staff of Le Chat L'Heureux and, especially, Loriane and the sweet cats for your kind service.  I consider myself lucky to have met you.

La Maison Maine Coon: Review of La Maison d'Elise

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If you visit the 'About' page on this website, you will see a photo of me holding a Maine Coon cat.  I've always had a thing for them.

Lucky for me (and you!), so does Elise.

Elise, owner of La Maison d'Elise moved to Nantes a few years ago with her three Maine Coon cats before deciding to open a cat cafe.  

She has fashioned a chic and stunning space with warm wood floors, sleek leather chairs and white tables.  With seating for up to 25 people, everything still looks fresh and new which is impressive considering the cafe has been open for two years.  

I learned about this from Elise as I was lucky to visit with her between guests.  She is a warm and friendly host, and also incredibly hard working, managing the cafe by herself most days.

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Elise started with three cats, but found two more to enhance her clowder.  They are all gorgeous and interestingly, diverse in looks.  I had never seen an orange or gray Maine Coon before, so fortunately Jerkhan and Gala gave me the chance, but unfortunately they were sleeping in the cat tree for most of my visit.  Luckily the rest were awake including Leiko, a supermodel feline with beautiful long hair in a light calico/tabby combo, Miyazaki, a young and impish cutie, and Jün, my favorite, a handsome and extremely large boy with traditional markings. 

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La Maison d'Elise is not just unique in that all the cats are one breed, but also because they go home with Elise every night instead of living in the cafe. 

The cafe specializes in tea by the Alveus brand as well as bio products and juices.  Patisserie products are made off site and my chocolate layered tart and coffee were decadently delicious.

I found La Maison d'Elise to be a complete delight- from the lovely environment to the gorgeous cats to the personable host, Elise has created a high quality experience you are guaranteed to enjoy!

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, entertaining articles and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (169 in 27 countries so far) in the world.  We are passionate about cat travel and raising awareness for rescue and adoption.  

 

The Cat Cafes of France, Part I

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France is famed for fashion, food... and felines? 

After visiting ten French cat cafes over two weeks in November 2017, I am convinced that France's furballs need to be added to the 'things the French do well' list.  So sleek, so chic, surely the term 'catwalk' must have originated here. 

But if you think the kitties are the sole reason to visit France's cat cafes, you would be wrong.  How about the chance to sample gourmet cuisine in an elegant environment that Vogue would deem 'French-girl-cool'?  

Leave it to the French to take the cat cafe concept and elevate it from cute & cuddly to stylish & sophisticated. 

Meow-stache: Cafe Moustache

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The day had started very early when I boarded a bus in Paris for the two hour ride to Rouen that Sunday morning in November.  By the time I returned that night, I had experienced a magical day that included some fabulous French felines. 

When I arrived in Rouen mid-morning, I was able to take a leisurely stroll across the Seine river into the old city.  I had certainly heard of Rouen, the capital of Normandy and it's famed cathedral (a favorite subject of Impressionist Claude Monet), but was gobsmacked by the large expanse of medieval half-timbered houses.  For the next hour, I took dozens of photos and soaked in the history.

By the time I arrived at Cafe Moustache, I was a bit chilly and in need of a cup of tea.  Luckily, I was able to secure one of the nine seating areas (they do not accept reservations) even though I arrived shortly after the 11 am opening.  The cafe has been very successful and I can see why- the atmosphere is cheerful, lovely and inviting, full of feline-friendly spaces and cozy nooks for their human admirers.  

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The cafe has partnered with Felin' Possible 76 for rescued cats.  They sponsor between five and seven at one time, making sure they have plenty of love and care until they are adopted.  Some of the kitties were quite social, going from table to table for ear scratches, while others were a bit shy, still learning to trust again.

I was impressed by the cafe's commitment to the cats welfare and that they sponsor cats that might not catch the attention of a prospective adopter due to a missing eye or leg.  Balou, an eight year old black and white boy is one such cat.   He only has three legs and has suffered abuse in the past, but it hasn't prevented him from living a full life, receiving much adoration from the cafe's patrons.  The day I visited, he posed for photos like a supermodel!  

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Food-wise, the cafe has a large selection of hot and cold beverages, plus pastries and a few paninis.  I had a cup of tea and muffin, both of which were good quality.  

I was not able to speak directly with the cafe's founders, Julia and Constance, however their website provided a lot of insight as to their approach and it's clear they have been both thoughtful and thorough they have been in researching and executing their vision.  Cafe Moustache offers a pleasant, feline-focused experience that in combination with the historic city of Rouen, makes for a wonderful day trip from Paris.

For complete cafe details, click here.

Cat Cafe Evolution: Le Darwin

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Cat cafes are not often known for the food served to humans.  

It's understandable if you think about it.  Cats should be the first and foremost priority with a nice atmosphere and cup of coffee running a distant second.  But France has proven that their cat cafes not only deliver on the felines, but also gourmet food experiences. 

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Considering the foodie culture, that might not come as a complete surprise.  I had amazing meals in NantesCaen and Reims, but Le Darwin, in Troyes stands out as a culinary masterpiece. 

Troyes, a 1.5 hour train ride from Paris, is an historic city known for medieval half timbered buildings and narrow, cobbled streets.  I'm hoping it will soon be famed for its top-notch cat cafe. 

Le Darwin is located in an attractive setting, a square next to a Basilique Saint-Urbain that I admired as I arrived shortly after the 11 am opening time.  When the sign on the door indicated that was delayed noon, I walked around and took in the sights, which is a bonus of being in France; there is never a shortage of interesting things to gaze upon.

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I returned just after noon to a warm welcome from the host.  As I was seated, we communicated using a little bit of French (me) and a little bit of English (the host) as our mutual love of cats seemed to transcend the language barrier.

Looking over the menu, there was an impressive selection of delicious-sounding options. While I was deciding, the cats began to make their way over and within a minute I was in love.  There are nine felines in residence, all available for adoption sans two 'house cats' Mika & Maya.  The kitties, (including a black short-hair, gorgeous green-eyed tabby and a Siamese mix named Fripouille) took turns on my lap for ear scratches and cuddles which I happily delivered in between lunch courses.  I learned that since the cafe's opening in January, 2017, they have successfully adopted 12 cats.  

Normally, I prefer to gush about kitties, but oh my goodness, the food here was amazing!  The amuse bouche was a cold garlic sauce topped with croutons and radish while my main, an Oeuf frite (soft boiled egg coated in crumbs and fried, like a Scotch egg) topped with bacon was divine perfection.  

For dessert I indulged in a crusty almond cupcake split in two and topped with a dense white chocolate frosting and mango sauce, plus a side of icy lemon sorbet adorned with bits of salt, merengue and candied lemon peel.  It was very sweet but nicely balanced by the citrus and various textures.  

All of this epicurean delight was also incredibly good value with two coffees, entree and dessert totaling less than €15.   

If the cats and food aren't enough to tempt you, the space is also lovely, separated into three areas including the main bar, dining room and coffee nook.  The ambience is comfortable and cozy set to a soundtrack of upbeat, electro-pop music.

My visit to Le Darwin excelled in all areas and whether you are a cat lover or gourmand, I'm confident a visit to Troyes would be a highlight of any trip to France.  

For complete cafe details, click here.

Chat Historique: Au Chat Perché

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Caen is a lovely port city in lower Normandy, approximately nine miles inland from the English Channel and 35 minutes from Omaha Beach (aka Normandy Beach). It's an historic city, famed as the burial site of William the Conquerer. 

It is fitting that Au Chat Perché (aka 'the perched cat') evokes the past by occupying a 17th century building, part of old hotel complex.   The space has been modernized, yet sensitively retains the features that make it significant and unique.  The decor is austere and chic, yet also manages to be cozy!

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There were five cats in residence the day I visited including three playful kittens that wrestled each other and entertained the patrons.  The other cats curiously inspected patrons and, at times, jumped into open laps for cuddles.  I was especially taken with Gordon, a black cat with a handsome face and sweet disposition.

According to Cyreac, the cafe is in partnership with La Compagnie des Chats Sans Maître, an association which provides the rescue cats.  Despite only being open for a short time (since September), the cafe has already found permanent homes for sixteen felines! 

Au Chat Perché is a family affair as Cyreac's wife Severine is the chef.  She specializes in vegetarian dishes and so I ordered the plat du jour, a delicious lentil veggie burger served with curried carrots, rice and salad, plus a pot of steaming hot tea.  It was an outstanding meal!

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Even though it was very busy on the Saturday I visited, Cyreac was a kind and friendly host, and gracious to answer all my questions in English as (sadly) I can only say please and thank you in French.  Merci beaucoup!

With its cool atmosphere, sweet kitties, delicious food and friendly hosts, Au Chat Perché definitely stands out as memorable and an easy two hour train from Paris St. Lazare station.

For complete cafe details, click here.

Chat-tastic:  Le Chat Puccino

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It's easy to fall in love at Le Chat Puccino.

Of course, the sweet kitties are the primary heart stealers, but other contributors include the cute and cozy atmosphere of the cafe plus fun touches, like coffee cups adorned with cats dressed in French Navy (aka Breton or Marinière) shirts.  

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Then there is infatuation-inducing city of Rennes itself.  The capital of Brittany is famed for a well-preserved historic district filled medieval half-timbered buildings that now house adorable shops, as well as galettes, a savory crepe made from buckwheat. 

It's possible to make a day trip from Paris (I did), but after visiting both Rennes and nearby Nantes, I highly recommend combining cat cafe stops with a bigger, broader tour of Brittany.  The entire area is physically stunning, rich in cultural tradition and filled with culinary and shopping delights.  

At the center of all there is to see and do is Le Chat Puccino.  Sophie, the gracious owner, opened her cafe in August, 2016 on a charming street adjacent to the historic district and quayside canals of the River Vilaine.  Inside, she has created a lovely environment with classic style, soft music and lots of natural light from the large storefront windows.  I was lucky to spend some time with her visiting about her experiences (in English, merci beaucoup!!).

Le Chat Puccino features rescued cats available for adoption.  There were four during my visit, but Sophie indicated that she was waiting on three more to arrive shortly.  In addition to an adorable Tabby kitten and Jolene, Sophie's own gorgeous queen-of-the-house Tortie (not for adoption), my favorite cat (who has since found her permanent home!) was Lena, a black and white short haired girl that cuddled with me at length. 

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There is also a full menu, and while I initially sipped a mocha, after watching the amazing food being delivered to visitors during the lunch hour, decided to order a toastie with side salad, followed by an espresso.  Delicious!

53It was sad to leave, but soon found myself entertained by a late afternoon spent shopping and sipping wine before I caught the train back to Paris.

After such an outstanding day (truly one of the best I had during my two weeks in France) I strongly encourage you to make your way to Brittany, Rennes and Le Chat Puccino.  Go ahead, fall in love for yourself!

For complete cafe details, click here.

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, entertaining articles and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (155 in 24 countries so far) in the world.  We are passionate about cat travel and raising awareness for rescue and adoption.  

The Best Cat Cafes in Tokyo

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Fast paced.  High energy.  Trend setting.  Leading edge.  Catty?

If you are looking for the latest in culture, trends, shopping, dining, or even cats, consider Tokyo (home of Hello Kitty) the perfect muse.  

But in the world's most populous metropolitan area (nearly double that of NYC), even experienced travelers can be overwhelmed seeking out inspiration.

The Neighbor's Cat traveled to Tokyo in May, 2017 with the aim of visiting every cat cafe, and found the task much like the city itself, exciting, yet daunting.

With determination and a Japan Rail (JR) pass, I managed to drop by 24 feline emporiums in ten days.  But even with all that kooky kitty-ness, leave it to Tokyo to put a stroller filled with ten fluffy furballs in my path.  You can't make this stuff up.

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To save you the time and money, The Neighbor's Cat has selected the best cat cafes Tokyo has to offer, so you can hunt down more inspiration.  Or a pushchair full of cats.

Best Overall:  Monta

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High above the Taito neighborhood, this cat cafe delights in many ways.  So much so, it has officially made the list of Top Five Cat Cafes in the World.   

Yes, Monta stands out amongst the 100+ cafes I've personally visited across the globe as it exceeds expectations in all areas- cats, coffee, facility and staff.  It's everything a cat cafe should be.

First, naturally, the cats are top notch.  The owner has one each of the nine cutest breeds out there including Bengal, Russian Blue, Ragdoll, Maine Coon, Abyssinian and my personal new favorite, Somali.

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Each one of these cats is a rock star in his/her own right with equal measures of beauty, sociability and playfulness.  I was particularly enamored of Kenta, the aforementioned Somali who is so gorgeous, I just stared at him before he finally moved out of my line of sight.  Then, I made eyes at Aby, the Abyssinian and Jack, the Norwegian Forest Cat.  While those cats were relatively chill, Lili the Bengal was super playful and curious, chasing a string and sniffing my coffee.

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Speaking of coffee, this is another reason why Monta is getting the nod on my favorites list.  I'm pretty generous with the cafe side of things, so if they are more about cats than coffee, I'm ok with that.  Japan has a fairly loose definition of a 'cafe' when it comes to cat cafes, with most serving hot drinks from a vending machine that are not the highest quality beverages you will find.

But Monta rises above this with real espresso drinks on offer that are delicious!  They also serve tea and beer, plus a limited selection of pizza, pasta and pastries.  The cost of food and drinks is not included in the entrance fee.

The facility itself is wonderful.  Super clean, nicely decorated and cozy without being cluttered, the owner has created a room that stands out as one that has been thoughtfully created to please both cats and humans.  I especially appreciated the warm lighting, which so many cafes fail to get right with harsh, fluorescent overheads that are serious buzz kills.  I also enjoyed meeting the owner, a genial man who clearly loves these kitties and running his cafe.  He genuinely wants you to enjoy the cats and the time you spend here.

As I sat inside Monta's lovely space surrounded by nine gorgeous cats and delicious cup of coffee in my hand while overlooking the Tokyo skyline, it struck me that this is an ideal cat cafe.

Click here for complete cafe details.

Most Unique:  Temari no Ouchi

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Just when I thought that Caturday was going to take the title for the most creative cat cafe, along comes the fairy tale that is Temari no Ouchi.

It's not difficult to forget reality as you sip a coffee in this pint sized cat village.  With a style best described as hobbit house chic, Temari no Ouchi (Temari's House) provides a destination experience that will leave you smiling.  

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Billed as a relaxation space, the price to enter the cafe is steep, even by Tokyo standards.  One hour will set you back Y1200 ($10.97) on the weekdays or Y1600 ($14.62) on the weekend-- which doesn't include food and drinks.

It was already crowded when I arrived around 11 on a Monday morning, and was seated near the back on a bench that was made to look like faux wood.  This did provide me a good vantage point to observe the activities in progress.  The kitties (approximately twelve) were quite active, either scampering randomly around patrons seated on the floor at small tables or racing back and forth as they chased toys wielded by the friendly, uniformed staff.  In any case, the atmosphere was festive and it seemed focused on entertainment vs. a quiet place to sip coffee and work on your laptop.  

I've never heard a cat pant like a dog before, but one racing kitty did just that as he rested near me-- complete with his tongue hanging out.  These fur babies certainly had lots of personality, although many resisted being petted so definitely not a lap cat place.  

With a fun environment, playful cats and decent foodservice, Temari no Ouchi is a unique place to visit, especially on vacation.  Be warned that it is exceedingly popular and reservations are recommended unless you go first thing on a weekday morning like I did.  

Click here for the complete cafe details.

Friendliest Staff:  Cafe Nekorobi

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Visiting so many cat cafes has proven to have a downside.  I’m getting a little jaded.

Which is unfortunate because cats in any type of setting should be a joy-inducing delight.  But after so many visits in Japan, pickiness had started to creep in, and I found myself mentally docking points for any hint of cat urine odor, rooms with bad lighting, apathetic staff or cups of sludge masquerading as coffee.  

Then, along came Nekorobi, which was a breath of fresh air.

My initial impression of the cafe was that, while pleasant and odor-free, it had no special features that stood out.  But when I stepped inside, I was pleasantly surprised by a super cheerful attendant, who seemed genuinely passionate about the cats, and gave me the details without a hint of overbearance.  Café workers attitudes really make a difference in first impressions and this set the tone for a wonderful above-average afternoon.

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Once my fee was paid (900 yen for 30 minutes including unlimited free drinks from a coffee machine), I was shown the coffee machine in between receiving tips on which cats like belly rubs and which like to chase string.   There was a mention of a kitten that would make a playful and popular appearance later in the hour.

I particularly loved the cats here.  Plenty of them (twenty total) and all manner of breeds.  Most were incredibly social and many enjoyed playing.  A few were dressed up in goofy outfits, which I tend to frown upon as I can’t imagine they like it, but all seemed good natured about the whole thing.

I stayed for an hour watching gleeful (and well-behaved) children play with the younger cats and gently pet the older ones.  The smiles on their faces were priceless and I remember thinking this is what makes cat cafes worthwhile endeavors- they create pure joy. 

The vibe at Café Nekorobi is a happy and relaxed one, and while there are few bells and whistles, the simplicity means you can focus on the adorable cats. 

Click here for complete cafe details.

Friendliest Cats:  Cat Cafe Nyankoto

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Cat Cafe Nyankoto was the first cafe we visited in Tokyo and it stands out, luckily, for all the right reasons. 

Nyankoto is run by a motivated owner who wants you to have a good time.  The setting is clean, fresh and very home-like with much of the seating on the floor where you can grab a fuzzy blanket and wait for the cats to fight over your lap.  These kitties are incredibly playful and social- amongst the most friendly cats I've come across in all of my world travels.  A variety of feline friends await you, including kittens, which are brought out sparingly to avoid over-stimulating them.

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The visitors to this cafe are less tourist and more local, owing to the very reasonable entrance fee of 800 yen/hour which include a free beverage.  However, the owner has some English and is exceptionally welcoming to foreigners and locals alike, even offering everyone in the room a handful of cat treats for just 100 yen, a total bargain.

I found Cat Cafe Nyankoto to be a delight and am confident that you will walk away smiling, just as we did.

Click here for complete cafe details.

Most Relaxing:  Cafe 299

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Café 299 was hard to find, but once there, even harder to leave. 

It came up on a random list from a Google search online but when I tried to Google map it, I couldn’t. 

Undeterred as I am in my quest to visit every cat café in the world, I narrowed the area on Maps.me and after doing a double take on the street, had my aha moment.  On the 5th floor of a six-story building, I enjoyed the vibe of the café, the second I arrived.  Less posh than Mocha, but nicer than many of the cafes in the Tokyo area, Café 299 strikes a good balance between a slightly upscale environment that also feels completely welcoming and cozy, with tons of comfy couches and even actual beds!

Precisely the type of place you would want to cuddle up with a cup of coffee and a kitty.

The pricing system is also a bit different, which is nice for those short on time- each ten minute increment costs 200 yen ($1.81 USD) with coffee (from a machine) an extra charge.

I counted about fifteen cats, a bit on the low side considering how large the room is, and it felt like patrons were vying for the attention of the few cats that were awake. 

I had a very enjoyable 40 minutes.  My couch was so comfortable, I had to force myself to leave after one sweet kitty had fallen asleep next to me. 

Put Café 299 on your list when you need a break from the chaos that is Tokyo.

Click here for complete cafe details.

Most Posh: Mocha Lounge Ikebukuro

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In terms of sheer beauty, Mocha Lounge Ikebukuro wears the crown. 

The space is aptly named as the first thing I wanted to do when I entered this cat cafe was to throw myself on one of the many lounge stations and just bask in the atmosphere.

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Upscale to be sure, with prices to match, Mocha also stands out in space-strapped Tokyo for its sheer enormity.  It's one of the largest cat cafes I've visited and the biggest in the Mocha chain.

Lest you think this reviewer a diva only capable of finding favor in conventionally gorgeous places, please see the excellent reviews for Cat EyesMomi and Miau, decidedly scruffy places that are actually charming when cute kitties and engaged staff are involved.  

But alas, it is the facility that helps put this cafe in coveted 4.5 paw overall score range, and despite lower scores for staff (spent more time cleaning than anything else) and food/drink (decent vending machine drinks, but still), the stand out felines also make this place a treat.  Luscious long-haired beauties such as Persians, Somalis, Maine Coons and American Curls provide plenty of eye candy while you kick back and relax after a long day of sight seeing on the busy streets of Tokyo.

Click here for complete cafe details.

 

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, entertaining articles and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (168 in 26 countries so far) in the world, we are passionate about cat travel and raising awareness for rescue and adoption. 

 

UK Cat Cafes Part III: The South

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Hello again Cat Lovers!

We have been traipsing around the beautiful island of Britain visiting cat cafes, with the last two articles spotlighting The North and The Midlands.  Today, our last installment features four feline-focused establishments in The South.  I hope you have enjoyed our tour, meeting these magnificent moggies and posh pussy-cats, and think you'll agree that the United Kingdom has some of the best cats and cat cafes in the world!

The Neighbor's Cat visited twelve UK cat cafes in November, 2017.

Meow Right:  You & Meow, Bristol

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I usually take tons of pictures when I visit cat cafes, because cats images are hard to capture and you need to take A LOT of photos to find a few usable ones.  

I didn't take many photos at You & Meow, but I got something way better-- an in-depth visit with Ewa, the owner.  As a cat cafe fanatic, it was incredibly exciting to speak with someone who is as into it as I am.  

Ewa had previously worked at a cat cafe in London before deciding to open one in Bristol due to its strong emphasis on independent businesses.  Her location on Denmark Street is perfect amidst cool and youthful bars, shops and restaurants- You & Meow fits right in.  

When I visited, You & Meow had been open for eight months and the atmosphere was quite calm and tranquil, resembling a Japanese Zen Garden, but Ewa wants to further evolve the cafe into an experience focused on mindfulness and wellness with classes and special healing rooms.  Not only does this approach set it apart from other cat cafes, but truly reflects Ewa's passion and personality.  

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The kitties (all rescues, twelve in total) seem to enjoy this chill vibe and are quite social and friendly.  Impish ginger Noel entertained guests by running around while sweet Thomas took a cat nap on my lap.  

I was very impressed with the quality of my pumpkin spice cake and tea, which was elegantly presented.  My partner had a latte with the foam decorated as a jack-o-lantern.  The attention to detail and small touches really help You & Meow stand out.  Even the toilets are pretty and smell amazing!

I was also wowed by You & Meow's commitment to helps cats and people.  With its unique atmosphere and great service, this top notch cat cafe would be a winner in the middle of nowhere, but considering its also in the cool, independent-minded Bristol city center, I suggest you make your way there asap! 

Feline Fun:  Feline Good Cat Cafe, Cardiff, Wales

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We had so much fun at Feline Good Cat Cafe, our cheeks hurt from smiling!

Not only are Feline Good's cats super energetic and playful, but Hollie, the owner is so lovely, cheerful and friendly, the enthusiasm in this pretty cafe is contagious.  

Will you indulge me if I gush about the kitties a bit longer?

The eight cats in residence love being around people so much that I wondered if they had a touch of dog in them?  Handsome Freddie stole my heart immediately.  He also turned out to be a fantastic model and I was able to capture such gorgeous photos he earned a spot on the coveted 'Most Photogenic' list.  Then there was Marie, Ash, Marshall, Rory, Winston, Penny and Black.  They showed me how much they love to play by diving into the pink nylon tunnel, chasing strings and taking a spin on the huge cat wheel.  Such personalities, I loved them all!

I haven't even gotten to the food yet.  Our tea and coffee were beautifully presented and tasted wonderful, but OMG, I am going to be dreaming about that Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup for years to come.  

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All of the guests were having a great time, we looked at the cats and each other with goofy grins.  The cafe only opened in July so everything is fresh, clean and new with plenty of comfortable seating.  

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We had such a great time visiting with Hollie and playing with the cats, it was difficult to leave.  If you have the good fortune of living in Cardiff or plan a visit to Wales, make sure and add Feline Good to your list of 'things to do'. 

Smiles await you.

A Proper Lady:  Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, London

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My expectations were high and how could they not be?  

Lady Dinah's opened in 2014 to great fanfare and a months-long waiting list.  It has become quite famous, topping many 'Best Cat Cafe' lists and remains solidly booked even after three years!

So, I was definitely curious and when I asked my friend Alison, a cat cafe newbie, to join me for afternoon tea, she was as excited as I was.  Arriving at nearby Liverpool Street tube station early, we decided to amble down Brick Lane which just happened to be on the way to our 1 pm scheduled appointment.

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As we waited in the reception area to be checked in, I was pleasantly surprised by the gracious and friendly greeting offered to each guest.  Instead of barking instructions or speeding through the rules (somewhat understandable if repeating them for the millionth time), the hostess spoke to each of us with courtesy and kindness.  

Once inside, we were seated on the main level where a lovely 'cat carer' gave us great information about the seventeen cats in permanent residence, all rescues.  I particularly loved how she told light-hearted stories about their lives at the cafe, like Wookie, a big boy (17.5 pounds!) who doesn't like a lot of fuss and prefers to observe the action while chilling out and Salome, a sweet girl who was wearing a cone since she had recently been spayed.

After a short time checking out the cats, our high tea arrived in a magnificent presentation, three tiers filled with sandwiches, scones/clotted cream/jam and a melange of petite sweets such as macaroons and eclairs.   Ali and I nibbled and chatted away while world music played overhead and the kitties frolicked around us.  

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It was exactly what I had hoped it would be.  I found that the tea service made for a relaxing atmosphere as guests focused more on food/conversation and less on trying to attract a cat to their lap. 

Before our 90 minute time slot was up, I made a trek downstairs and loved how cool and cozy it was, with a slightly more intimate vibe than the upstairs, which is more like a formal tea room.  

Lady Dinah's is deserving of the many accolades it has received.  With the combination of a fresh & clean space, delicious food, engaging staff and friendly felines, it has all of the elements of a great cat cafe, plus the added bonus of a proper high tea, making a fun afternoon out even more special.  Yes, the cost of £25 per person might seem substantial, but when you consider the average price of an afternoon tea in London is £30-£50 (sans kitty snuggles) I find Lady Dinah's offers exceptional value for money, especially when you consider they are caring for a clowder!

Great expectations, yes, but Lady Dinah's delivers. 

It Takes a Village:  London Cat Village, London

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First impressions can be hard to overcome, but when the complete experience exceeds expectations, it's easy.  Such was the case at London Cat Village.

I was especially excited for this visit as my friend Alison was joining me.  We had a bit of rocky start wandering around Shoreditch for a bit as our GPS had put us in the wrong location.  Luckily we had built in plenty of extra time!  Our greeting wasn't the warmest, with the staff member speed repeating the rules as she seated us in the basement.  

Feeling a bit isolated, I asked to be reseated upstairs, which was honored, and while I'm not sure our host was thrilled, I was one happy camper!  I really loved the atmosphere on the main level with lots of exposed brick and sleek dark floors softened by warm wood, cozy shearling and dim lighting.  It felt like the perfect cafe environment with comfortable seating areas built for conversation and potential lap visitors.  

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There were sixteen cats in residence the day I visited, an incredibly diverse and stunning mix, including Misty the Persian, Fred the Ginger, Ted the Russian Blue Mix, Mr. Moors the Exotic, Snow the Birman, Polar the American Curl, and Nunu the Gray Birman.  I was particularly smitten with friendly Fred, who curled up on the chair next to me while I rubbed his chin.  I have heard there is a 'no touching' policy that was recently implemented, which I wouldn't consider a deal breaker as one of my favorite cat cafes in the world, Cat Apartment Coffee, has this policy and it didn't diminish my experience.

Whatever the case, the cats are definitely the stars here, but I was also impressed by the food service.  Our toastie, latte and pot of tea were tasty and beautifully presented and how can you not smile when being served tea out of an adorable kitty pot?!

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Later, I was able to have a brief chat with another staff member, a friendly cat-loving kindred spirit who shared stories about the kitties and was incredibly supportive and encouraging when I discussed my cat cafe adventures at The Neighbor's Cat.  

Overall, Alison and I had a wonderful catch up over tea and nibbles while watching the kitties frolic around us.  The cozy space, lovely food and gorgeous felines made for a special visit.

By the time our hour was up, my lasting impression was that I was officially a fan.

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, lively articles, the most current locations and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (148 in 24 countries so far) in the world, The Neighbor’s Cat can help you find the perfect cafe to complement your travels. 

UK Cat Cafes Part II: The Midlands

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Greetings Cat Lovers!

Last time, we took a trip to the North and visited four wonderful cat cafes.  Today, we will journey across the Midlands (name for the central part of Great Britain) and visit four additional kitty havens.  They are vastly different in their focus and mission, but all delight in their own way.  

The Neighbor's Cat visited twelve UK cat cafes in November, 2017.

Tabby Terrific:  Tabby Teas Cat Cafe, Sheffield

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I met a lot of wonderful people on my cat cafe tour of the UK, but Charlotte from Tabby Teas stands out.

A fun, energetic and kind cat-lover, she was born to run a cat cafe and her personality and thoughtful nature is apparent in the atmosphere of the cafe.  It's a modern, industrial-chic space with concrete floors, exposed brick walls, cool furniture and large sunny windows.  The open coffee bar area gives the space a center of gravity, much like how guests gravitate to the kitchen at a party.  It was all so inviting and charming, but I was also impressed by the sense of community present- a vibe the big coffee chains seem to force, but at Tabby Teas feels completely natural.

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While they have the human element on lock, it's clear a lot of effort has also gone into creating a feline-friendly environment.  I loved the vertical nature of the room with plenty of elevated spaces and cushioned sleeping spots for the cats.  

Speaking of kitties, there are twelve permanent residents at Tabby Teas, all so lovable and social, it's hard to believe they were rescues!   Olaf is the star, a gorgeous long-haired ginger with a playful personality, but some of my other favorites include Vince, a beautiful white cat that is also hearing-challenged, Tripod, a three legged, belly-rub-loving tabby and one of the best cat names of all time, Jigglelump, a short-haired ginger with a serious taste for cake.

While I love cats first and foremost, I love coffee nearly as much and have sadly consumed many cups of inferior cat cafe java.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was over my cup of Frazer coffee, a local artisan roaster that clearly knows what they are doing.  Not to be outdone by the coffee, the cakes were also excellent, especially the Victoria Sponge-- I can attest that I have not a tastier slice in the UK!

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But what really sets Tabby Teas apart from other cat cafes are the people.  All of the staff are lovely (including her husband, Michael), but Charlotte is exceptional.  I was able to speak with her at length about all things cat cafe, which was such a treat since there was often a language barrier when I visited cat cafes in Asia. 

While they have only been open since July, 2017, Charlotte was a wealth of knowledge as we discussed how to create a cat-friendly space (lots of places to get up high), how she was able to do an open coffee bar area (food is all prepared off-site), the animal charities she works with (Mill House Animal SanctuaryPet Samaritans) and, of course, loads of stories about the cats.

Sheffield might not seem like the place to find one of best cat cafes out there, but Tabby Teas excels in all areas.  I can only encourage you to go and see for yourself!

For complete cafe details, click here.

Curiosity Rules:  Curious Cats Rehoming Center & Tea Room, Derby

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I'm a huge fan of those who dare to be different.

As a full-time traveler turned cat cafe reviewer, I know it's not always easy to choose the path less trodden and that's why my heart holds big love for Curious Cats.

The cafe used to be called Lady T's and realizing they were not like other cat cafes, the team decided to embrace their differences by focusing on being the only non-profit cat cafe in the UK (with an aim to become a registered charity).  Unlike other cat cafes that have rescues, Curious Cats takes in those that are truly forgotten.  Old, sick or injured?  Missing an eye?  Fur has seen better days?  All are welcome in this inclusive cafe and I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

The day we visited, we had several sweet kitties decamp to our table for a warm lap and personal attention.  We gave them plenty of extra cuddles and found it very difficult to leave even though the time on our parking meter was up.

There go the tears again. 

It's not that Curious Cats is sad, but rather I have a tender heart when it comes to unwanted/ abused/ abandoned felines.  If you have ever had a cat in your lap that has had a tough life, but then looks up at you with peaceful contentment, how can you not mist up a bit? 

Why don't I discuss the other aspects of Curious Cats while I grab a tissue?

The facility is set up over multiple floors as a proper old-fashioned tea room although I loved how there were some quirky design elements such as masks and fun photos.  Seeing as it was Halloween, however, that might have just been holiday decor.  

This cheekiness extends to their logo (one of the coolest cat cafe logos ever!), a tattoo-esque image of Alan Wrinkleman, Sphinx extraordinaire and resident mascot.

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That's Curious Cats.  Civilised and edgy in equal measure.

I must mention that the staff are absolute angels- polite, kind and helpful.  Also, the quality of our order of a latte and coffee was excellent.  Yes, it's a touch on the catty side, so if you have allergies, I'm sure there's a Costa down the street to help you.  But if you care deeply about cats and want to help the least fortunate of them, pay a visit to Curious Cats and consider an extra donation for these cat cafe mavericks.  

For complete cafe details, click here.

Circle of Friends:  Cat Village North, Chesterfield

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It felt like we were visiting old friends.

Which is strange because I had never been to Chesterfield before, but when we pulled into this attractive market between Derby and Sheffield, I was instantly comfortable, a sneak peek of what was to come.

Adam, the cafe owner, and Midnight, the Queen of Cats greeted us as we walked in.  I was immediately bewitched by Midnight, a gorgeous Maine Coon female that is not afraid to look you directly in the eye.  In addition to welcoming every customer that visits Cat Village, she walks the floor like a seasoned cat cafe professional, checking on guests and making sure no lap is empty for long.  Beautiful, outgoing and uber-intelligent, she is an incredibly special cat.  

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That is just one of the many unforgettable felines at Cat Village North.  

Amiable, genial, affable, affectionate.  The kitties of CVN are beyond friendly and this particular clowder ranks at the top of friendliest cat cafes in the world.  In addition to Midnight, there was Gizmo, an adorable Birman kitten, Indie, an impish short-haired ginger and Mishka, a gorgeous Persian mix.

In between going ga-ga for these cats, we ordered a toastie, carrot cake, coffee and tea.  The quality was excellent, especially the tea which is Damman's brand.  The cats were a bit thick when the food arrived, but they have clever nets that protect your snacks from potential thieves.  We sat at the big wooden plank table and took in the surroundings, a pleasant rustic vibe with lots of warm wood and exposed brick.

We were lucky to arrive during a break in the action, which allowed Adam, a kind-hearted cat lover who believes in the restorative power of being in the presence of felines, a chance to chat with us about the kitties and all things cat cafe.  

It was such a lovely afternoon, we didn't want it to end, but eventually, after a few extra cuddles, we dragged ourselves away.

If you looking for a different kind of cat cafe, with a memorable and personal experience, Cat Village North is the place to find it. 

For more cafe details, click here.

Hello Kitty:  Kitty Cafe, Nottingham

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The word has gotten out about Kitty Cafe!

We arrived when the city centre traffic was getting a bit thick, but it was nothing compared to how lively it was inside this popular Nottingham cat cafe.

I was gobsmacked over the busyness for two reasons.  First, because unlike most cat cafes, it's an enormous place (the staff even wear headsets to communicate with the front desk!!) with seating for a minimum of 50 people.  Second, it was 3:30 on a weekday afternoon (I discovered later it was 'half term', a British phrase for school break).  It was full when we arrived and we waited a few minutes before being seated in the back room.

A seasoned cat cafe veteran, I found myself in the strange position of not knowing what to do.  Yes, the facility is nice, clean and comfortable.  Yes, the staff are friendly.  Yes, there is a large menu of delicious food and drink to choose from.  And, yes, there are many, many cute kitties, especially Heathcliffe, an enormous ginger with paws so large, it suggests he might have a recessive lion gene! 

However, the crowds had thrown me off my game.  There were so many people (it felt like it was a competition to get the attention of the cats), most of the kitties had run for cover.  The few felines that remained were hopelessly surrounded.  I looked around and saw one fluffy gray cat heading for the quiet corner of an unoccupied couch.  When I got up to take a photo, the expression on her face (see below) was very much celebrity-hounded-by-paparazzi, as if she was saying 'Must you do that?'

Ashamed, I sat down and decided to sip my latte and enjoy the surroundings instead.  Cute, colorful and quirky, Kitty Cafe's decorator has done a tremendous job.   I was also impressed by the quality of the food and the great service from the professional staff.  If you were looking for an fun, entertaining and satisfying outing with a friend, you would not be disappointed at Kitty Cafe.

Because I tend to value a more personal cat experience, my time at Kitty Cafe was a little less feline-focused than I am accustomed.  While the cats are monitored by the staff and there is some rotation of kitties from the back room, they still seemed a bit overwhelmed and stressed. 

Kitty Cafe is a nice place run by nice people and deserving of good scores, but those more feline-minded would be better served visiting on a slow day.  

For complete cafe details, click here.

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, lively articles, the most current locations and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (137 in 23 countries so far) in the world, The Neighbor’s Cat can help you find the perfect cafe to complement your travels. 

A Special Visit to Goathouse Cat Refuge

 Abner

Abner

When we started The Neighbor's Cat, our goal was to visit and review every cat cafe on the planet.  We wanted to promote 'cat travel' and shine a light on these small businesses making the world a better place for cats and people everywhere!  

It's still our main focus, but over the course of the past year, we have found ourselves evolving into vocal advocates for cat rescue and adoption, especially the cat cafes that feature adoptable felines.  

So while The Goathouse Refuge isn't technically a cat cafe, it is doing amazing work caring for kitties waiting for a forever home and we want to promote this worthy cause!

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Located in rural Pittsboro, NC, USA, The Goathouse Cat Refuge is approximately 45 minutes drive from the nearby cities of Greensboro and Raleigh.  According to the website, they are a '501(c)(3) nonprofit, no-kill animal sanctuary dedicated to providing cage-free care for cats regardless of age, medical issues or disposition until a permanent loving adoptive home can be found'

I had heard of Goathouse Refuge before, as the founder, Siglinda Scarpa was featured in a New York Times article and on The Today Show.  She is deeply committed to improving the lives of cats and has created an incredibly special space to house her furry charges. 

When I found out how close the sanctuary was to my partner's family home in nearby Sanford, I made plans to visit on a Friday afternoon in early March with family member, Peg. 

The refuge is set back a few miles off the main road, but is easily found in the Apple maps function of any iPhone.  After parking, we entered a big gate and followed a gravel path surrounded by peaceful scenes of budding trees and grazing goats.  A black kitty appeared and walked alongside us as we neared the main building, our own personal escort! 

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Inside the main building, there is a sanitizing station and bulletin boards featuring the cats available for adoption. 

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After a quick glance, we stepped inside a surprisingly large room with colorful walls, tall ceilings and cats. Lots and lots of cats!

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It's difficult to describe how I felt when I first walked in as there were so many cute cats that I wanted to squeal with joy, but because several sweet babies came up to us immediately to be petted, I was also a bit heartbroken. 

Peg and I spent a great deal of time offering gentle head rubs and sweet words to all those that gathered around us.  Compared to cat cafes, these felines were definitely more affection seeking.  

There appeared to be over 100 cats in this area, many having an afternoon snooze.  They were free to move about the room as they wished, and except for a few in cages due to illness, most of the kitties appeared to be healthy.  With that much catitude in one room, a couple of small tiffs broke out between some feisty felines, but overall, things were fairly calm and quiet.  

I was impressed at how clean things were, a testament to the dedication of the volunteers that assist at the refuge.  While walking around, I met Helen, who was busy preparing a few kitties for adoption pick up, but generously took the time to help answer my questions.  Thanks Helen!

Later, as we checked out the back room, I noticed several cat flaps leading to the outdoors.  

It was a whole new world, with even more kitties!  

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There were many gorgeous felines roaming the outdoor, yet fenced-in area.  Several followed us around, accepting head rubs and ear scratches when we bent over to offer them. 

I was thrilled to see this expansive area custom-built for cats.  It provides them a space to get away from people and other cats,  as well as express their natural cat behavior such as hunting and scratching, all in a safe environment.  And on this particular day, the weather was perfect for being outside!

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With all this cuteness, I was smitten at every turn, but there was one cat that completely stole my heart, and her name is Coconut.

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With her fluffy tail and soft fur, this adorable girl caught my attention as she followed me around while I snapped photos of the outdoor cattery.  So, we hung out and played for awhile.

After we left, I couldn't get her off my mind.  Even though I've grown accustomed to feelings of sadness in not being able to adopt my own cat (due to my current full-time travel lifestyle), I really wanted to do something for this sweet girl.  

So, as a birthday present to me the following week, my partner sponsored her!

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If you are in North Carolina and reading this, please consider adopting Coconut.  I would be eternally grateful and I know you won't be disappointed!  Click here for the link to her page.

Even if you aren't from North Carolina, consider a visit or donation to support these fine folks and felines.  

We are off to Asia for a six week cat cafe tour of Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Hong Kong.  But with family nearby, we definitely plan on returning to this amazing place in the summer.  

In the meantime, I'll be thinking about my sweet Coconut!

UK Cat Cafes Part I: The North

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With one of the strongest animal welfare cultures around, British citizens have a lot to be proud of when it comes to well-loved kitties and now you have one more reason:  your cat cafes are of such high quality that your nation takes the (virtual) award for 'Best Cat Cafe Country'.  

I've lived in Great Britain before, so I can't say I was totally surprised, but it's quite impressive that you have so many that are so good. 

The Neighbor's Cat visited twelve UK cat cafes in November, 2017 and will present three reviews split into North, Midlands and South.  

Let's begin our journey in the North, where I was mightily impressed with the following feline-focused facilities.

Window Wonderland:  The Cat in the Window

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The minute I entered The Cat in the Window Cafe, I knew I had found a winner.

Not that I give out awards, (hey, now that's an idea...) but if I did, this one would take the UK top prize.  

They excel is all the areas we rate here at The Neighbor's Cat.  A beautiful, feline-focused space.  Gorgeous cats with personality to spare.  Staff that are delightfully engaging.  Coffee and dessert that are incredibly tasty.  On this last point, you must understand that as the home of Spotted Dick, Trifle and other Sad-Excuses-For-Pudding, Britain is not known for deliciously decadent desserts and even if it was, I wouldn't expect to find it in Aberdeen.

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Aberdeen, Scotland is decidedly 'out of the way' and my journey to The Cat in the Window was far from easy, but anyone that resolves to visit every cat cafe in the world had better have enough fortitude to take on a 14 hour travel day.  However, the long journey was quickly forgotten when I stepped in the door at 4 pm.  The cafe observes a 'cat nap' between 2:30 and 4 pm daily and because of this, I could literally feel the calm as the kitties began to stretch out of their sleeping spots and sniff the visitors.  

The cats, nine in total are a mixture of pedigreed and rescued.  I was particularly smitten with Drago, a handsome Asian Smoke, Napolean, a Persian pretty boy and Princess Pancake, an Exotic with impossibly soft fur.  These three were particularly social and curious the day I visited.  Interestingly, nearly all of the cats are two years old, the same age as the cafe.  They were raised together in order to foster a cohesive and well-socialized clowder, which in my view has been a successful strategy!

In between playing and eating, I simply enjoyed just sitting in the pretty and comfortable space with the dark floors nicely offset by warm wood, shearling throws and pink accents.  It would be the perfect place to catch up with a dear friend over tea.

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Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the lovely staff member that was working the day I visited.  My experience was greatly enhanced due to her warm welcome and it was clear how much she loved the cats as she told me stories about their various personalities.  

The Cat in the Window is a wonderful cat cafe and I highly recommend making the journey to Aberdeen to enjoy their fine Northern hospitality. 

For full cafe details, click here.

Maison de Cute:  Maison de Moggy

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I adore Scotland and Edinburgh in particular.

The history.  The stunning landscape.  The cultural activities.  Even the most cynical Brit, who mock UK cities like it was the national sport, can only laud Edinburgh as 'lovely'.

But I was delighted to discover that not only does this loveliness extend to the city's cat cafe, Maison de Moggy, but they also have the most beautiful cat cafe cats in the UK.

Everywhere I looked, there was a cat so pretty, I had to control the urge to jump up and down and squeal with giddy delight.  Just when I thought it couldn't get any cuter, I learned that, in keeping with the cafe theme, they all have a French name.

Let's see, there is Guillaume (the best cat name EVER), a Chinchilla Persian ball of floof, Jacques, a regal white Norwegian Forest Cat, Marcel & Philippe, adorable Bengal/Siamese brothers and Amelie, a stunning Ragdoll.  However, my favorite was Sebastian, a chubby ginger British Shorthair that, like so many before me, captured my heart in an instant, but alas, didn't return my feelings.  Such is the life of a cat lover.  

While the cats are star-worthy, that's not to say Maison de Moggy slouch in other departments.  Despite being a hugely popular cafe with lots of visitors, which I have seen lead to a decline in quality of experience, there were a couple of things that impressed me.  One, the facility is still in good shape with plenty of cute corners to catch up with a friend and two, the staff are kind and try to deliver a personal experience, which I suspect must be difficult to maintain with the steady stream of guests day in and day out.  Kudos to the Maison de Moggy personnel for the warm welcome and great service!

Lastly, we found our refreshments (latte, tea and brownie) to be of excellent quality, although I found it tough to sit and savor since I was so busy checking out the cats- and an hour goes by very quickly!

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Edinburgh is a world-class tourist destination with activities that could keep one busy for months, however Maison de Moggy delivers an experience worthy of this amazing Scottish city, so be sure and put it on your list (and make a reservation!).

For full cafe details, click here.

Mognificent:  Mog on the Tyne

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Katie is exactly the type of person you hope to meet when visiting a cat cafe.

While I almost always get warm fuzzies from the kitties, I don't always experience the same from their human carers, but Katie is different. 

She was meant to own a cat cafe and I especially love how Mog on the Tyne matches up with her personality- a little bit of quirky, a lot of friendly and completely delightful!

We were lucky that we visited late morning on a weekday as it provided lots of time to chat with Katie and get the low-down on her cafe.  

In addition to having been open for three years, one of the first in the UK, eight cats are currently in residence, all rescues, including cuties Gary, Gladys and Gizmo.  However, I couldn't help being smitten by Stan.  He was hit by a car which broke his jaw, causing his tongue to permanently stick out, but rather than being a negative, it has made him one of the most popular cats in town!  Katie knows her charges well and rehomes any moggies (a popular term for a cat in the UK) that aren't loving the cafe environment.  Her compassion for felines is so great, there is a project in the works to rescue two special needs cats from Thailand!

In between helping out with treat time and chatting about all things cat cafe, we also managed to order a latte, tea, sandwich and brownie.  They were all lovely, but the brownie was especially delicious!

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Near the end of our time, we learned about all the events that they host- craft nights, game nights, etc.  

It wasn't until after our visit that our friends in Peterborough pointed out how the name 'Mog on the Tyne' (Newcastle is situated on the Tyne River) is a play on the popular song by Lindisfarne, Fog on the Tyne.  Being American, I missed it completely, but somehow it was fitting that I discovered yet another reason to love Mog on the Tyne.

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With Katie and her kitties, you never know what surprises will be in store. 

For full cafe details, click here.

Pawsome:  CatPawCino

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I already liked Newcastle before my recent visit, but discovering two solid cat cafes has cat-apulted it to the top of my 'Favorite UK Cities' list!

CatPawCino is a lovely space in a fabulous location overlooking the River Tyne near Gateshead Millennium Bridge, called 'Quayside' in the UK.   The owner, a cat-loving young woman originally from China, opened the cafe two years ago.  It is modeled after a typical Asian cat cafe, where shoes are removed before entering the cat room and the feline residents are gorgeous and pedigreed. 

The owner wasn't there the day we visited, but we received a very warm welcome from the friendly host who kindly explained the rules before showing us inside.  I was impressed by this particular staff member as she answered all of my questions and took the time to show guests how the various cats like to play.  

Speaking of kitties, nine gorgeous felines call CatPawCino home, including two that were up for adoption the day I visited, a pair of energetic black kittens, Barney and Bertie.  They have since found their forever homes (hooray!) and two new kittens have joined the crew.  The remaining cats belong to the owner, pedigreed cuties that make for entertaining cat-watching.  They include Alfie, a huge Ragdoll, Flora, a chubby British shorthair, Darvin, a rare Red Point Birman and my favorite, Hugo, an impish ginger Exotic that I found irresistible as evidenced by the enormous number of photos I snapped of him.

I'm really a fan of this type of cat cafe set up, with a combination of rescued and pedigreed cats, as 'posh' cats tend to be little less social while rescued moggies lean closer to the friendly and curious side.  This balance of beauty and playfulness creates an experience that most guests will find satisfying.  While I know this seems like a huge generalization, after 126 cat cafe visits, I find it pretty close to reality.  

My partner and I ordered coffee and split a Malteaser tray bake, both of which were delicious.  The cafe offers a variety of beverages (including a large selection of Chinese teas) and snacks.  If you are still hungry, there is a bistro downstairs that is cat-free and serves a more substantial Asian menu.

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If pressed, I would have a hard time picking my favorite Newcastle cat cafe as both have their own unique style and personality.  What I will say is that cat lovers in Newcastle are awfully lucky to have two fantastic choices!

For full cafe details, click here.

The Neighbor’s Cat is a comprehensive global cat cafe resource with first-hand reviews, the most current locations and an extensive photo gallery of the cutest cats on the planet.  On a quest to visit every cat cafe (134 in 23 countries so far) in the world, The Neighbor’s Cat can help you find the perfect cafe to complement your travels.