The Cat Cafes of Thailand

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Last year, we had fun visiting the cat cafes of Europe but officially entered serious cat cafe territory when we set foot in Asia.

Thailand was the first stop on our six month tour of the beautiful continent and we found a variety of cat cafes to satisfy our (and your) kitty loving ways.  

CAT UP, BANGKOK

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Located on a busy street and the cross section of two major metro stops (Sala Daeng & Silom), this cat cafe is super convenient to visit.  

We accidentally happened upon it as we attempted to navigate around the crowd on the elevated metro platform one day.  Perry stopped in his tracks and announced 'Is that a cat cafe?', his voice full of skepticism as if he was seeing a mirage.

Sure enough, it was.

We quickly forgot our original destination and hustled in for a closer look.  The space is lovely, inviting and a bit minimalist, all wood and glass, with a downstairs counter for ordering and and an upstairs space to enjoy your beverage while admiring the cats.  

I ordered an affogato (espresso and ice cream) and Perry a Thai milk tea (280 baht/$8) before we headed upstairs.  After a quick washing up, the attendant opened the door to kitty land, where we found the room clean, fresh smelling and filled with colorful floor pillows.  Unlike many overstimulated felines you sometimes find at cat cafes, these cats were friendly and most agreeable to being petted.  There were plenty of furry friends roaming around, a combination of purebreds and rescues that seemed well-cared for and not stressed in any way.

Popular with locals and tourists alike, it wasn't too crowded and we spent a pleasant hour enjoying ourselves.  The staff were polite and food and beverages good.  

I wish I could be more effusive.

After so many cat cafe visits around the world, I'm starting to get a little nitpicky.  One thing that put me off was seeing one of the staff trying to force a cat to play.  However, as the kitties generally seemed happy, the space was super clean and foodservice competent, I do recommend a visit when in Bangkok.

CATURDAY, BANGKOK

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Tucked away just off the main tourist area, the closest metro is Ratchathewi, but as we had just finished lunch at Siam Discovery Mall, we decided to walk off our Pad Thai with (according to Google) a 30 minute walk.  It was not easy to find and just as we were starting to wilt from the heat, (and question the accuracy of Google maps) we finally turned down Si Surat Alley (the address is for the main road, Phayathai) and found it.  

I'm glad that we persevered.

Having visited a lot of cat cafes in my world travels, Caturday Cat Cafe is the first one that felt like a fantasy.  From the cat-centric Renaissance paintings to the luxurious food and drinks to the tutu collars and butterfly wings on the kitties themselves (not sure how much they enjoy it), this place is seriously over the top and a delightful escape from reality.  How often have you said that about a cafe?

The space has lots of fun, yet elegant design details, like food bowls made from watering cans.  It's also incredibly clean considering how many furry feet (and bare human feet, my only nitpick) are running around.  The staff were attentive but not overbearing, and the regular feedings are scheduled as entertainment, like a Vegas-style show!

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But it's the cats that shine and they are everywhere.  It's hard to believe that in a place this crowded, the cats would be so calm, friendly and personable, but they are!  When we were seated, a large fluffy feline was napping on our table and didn't seem to mind as we began (gently) to pet him and scratch behind his ears.  Over the next hour and a half, the majority of the residents took turns sauntered over to check us out.  Rarely do you get that kind of curiosity with cats that see so many humans day in and day out.

Many of the kitties are purebred, and a few seemed as though they might have been strays, but it was hard to tell as the kitties are clearly in great shape, well-fed and well-cared for!

In addition to the beautiful space and even more gorgeous cats, the food was also top notch.  We ordered two lattes (one hot, one iced) and two different types of chocolate cake (all totaling 472 baht/$13.50) and while my cake was served frozen, it was delicious.  

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We were seated on floor cushions, which is pretty standard for cat cafes, but there are a few actual tables and chairs if you want to wait for one to free up.

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In conclusion, Caturday is a cat cafe dream-come-true and one of the best I've come across.  It might even be worth the trip to Bangkok just for this place alone!

CATMOSPHERE, CHIANG MAI

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With two locations in Sydney and Chiang Mai, this well-run business strikes a great balance between cat and cafe.  It's slightly outside of the main tourist area on Nimman, near Chiang Mai University, but worth the 30 minute walk (or short tuk-tuk/songtheaw ride) east from Maya Mall.

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Shoes off and hands washed, we were seated immediately after arriving, but later noticed people waiting outside for a free table, which is not surprising considering it was a Sunday.  Weekdays are probably less crowded.

Interior-wise, it was clean with lots of toys and cat climbing platforms, while seating is relatively comfortable with cushions on the floor and short tables. 

The cats, even the pedigreed divas, were surprisingly active considering it was the afternoon (prime sleeping time).  They delighted the patrons (including several children) by chasing toy mice and playing 'hide and seek' in boxes and bags.  All of the cats appeared healthy and happy, although many were on the shy side and didn't care to be petted.

We ordered two coffees and a piece of cake (316 baht/$9.14) that were of very good quality and delivered by efficient and polite staff.

MAEWMOTH CAT CAFE, CHIANG MAI

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Maewmoth is more cat than cafe and I'm definitely ok with that. 

The sweet fur babies on premises are mostly rescues and I couldn't help but feel alternately happy and sad- glad someone is helping them, but a sad reminder that there are so many homeless cats in Thailand.  

We didn't know what to expect as we walked down Suthep Road from our apartment near Chiang Mai University.  It was early evening and the street food scene was just starting to get busy, so while there was enough room on the sidewalk on Suthep, there was no such luxury when we turned right on Soi 4 Wat U Mong Street as we had to dodge a few motorbikes.  When it comes to my kitty fix, nothing gets in the way!

We removed our shoes and entered the cafe to be warmly greeted by the staff who took our order for two milk teas (200 baht/$5.72) and settled on the floor.

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The room is sizable with many low tables and cushions for seating.  While there are a lot of cats (fourteen), there isn't much in the way of cat equipment, which might be why they interact with the customers more than other places.  Most of the felines are healthy looking fluff balls who love the attention, but some are definitely recovering from their time on the streets, poor babies.

There were several tables with patrons when we arrived, but after an hour, we had the whole place to ourselves so we definitely got plenty of one-on-one kitty time.  Unlike many cat cafes, where you feel like you shouldn't overstay your welcome, the kind staff at Maewmoth (who clearly love these animals) encourage you to stay as long as you like. 

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My only nitpick is that I did catch a whiff of cat box every so often.

Despite that and the basic surrounding, the opportunity to interact with so many sweet cats who love attention means Maewmoth Cat Cafe is a must for any cat lover when in Chiang Mai!   

UPDATE!  Sadly, Maewmoth is no longer open as of 2018

The Neighbor’s Cat is the alter ego of Paula LaBine, an itinerant cat lover who writes about cat cafes, cat travel and rescue/adoption.  She is visiting every cat café in the world, 200 in 29 countries so far!   Find her at theneighborscat.com or on Facebook/Twitter @catcafeviews.