Animal Cafes Around the World
Twenty years ago in Taipei, Taiwan Tracy Zhang opened Cat Flower Garden, the world's first cat cafe. Sadly, barely anyone noticed.
It took years before the public warmed up to the idea of having cake, coffee and conversation in the presence of cats. But once word reached the shores of Japan the concept exploded and in 2005 Neko no Mise or Shop of Cats, located in Machida a city south of Tokyo, became the islands first cat cafe.
While feline cafes are as popular as ever in Japan, animal-themed spots of all kinds have quickly gained momentum there. From owls to hedgehogs, snakes, rabbits, meerkats, and pugs the trend continues to bloom, and recently the world has caught on.
Today animal cafes are popping up on both sides of the equator. As a result, the variety of creatures you can meet while sipping on coffee or tea has grown exponentially.
Whether you're into Siberian Huskies, Fireleg Tarantulas or Sulphur Crested-Cockatoos there's a cafe somewhere in the world that's got you covered. Here are some to keep in mind while dreaming up your next adventure.
TrueLove Cafe - Bangkok, Thailand
If you're touring Bangkok and wondering where to score a creamy slice of ice cream cake and take selfies with a fluffy bunch of playful Siberian Huskies, you're going to want to visit the TrueLove Cafe.
Owner and doting Husky lover Choty opened the cafe with one objective - to spread and inspire happiness. And given that tickets to the cafe sell out daily it's accurate to say she along with her adorable children aka the Huskies, are succeeding.
Open every day except Monday; the cafe hosts two daily sessions one at 12:00 pm and the other at 3:00 pm. Each lasts for two hours and includes one hour of quality time with the Huskies. Advanced reservations and online booking are not available. However, tickets are available for purchase at the onsite ticket counter starting at 12:00 pm. But given the cafe's limited space, and their first come first serve ticket policy, most visitors begin queuing as early as 10: 30 am for both sessions.
Ticket status updates are available via the cafe's Facebook page. To make sure your visit to the TrueLove Cafe is a success, it's best to plan ahead, arrive early and don't forget your camera.
Ra.a.g.f Rabbit Cafe - Harajuku, Tokyo
The Ra.a.g.f cafe or the Rabbit and Grow Fat cafe is a cozy spot where tired travelers and animal lovers alike can pet and feed an adorable variety of rabbits including Netherland Dwarfs, Holland Lops, Jersey Woolys, French Lops and American Fuzzy Lops.
Guests of the cafe can purchase a half hour or an hour time slot. For humans, admission includes a beverage and for an additional cost rabbit food, a bowl of shredded veggies and apples, is available for purchase. A quick insiders tip, if you're looking for a more interactive experience with the rabbits, it's best to visit in the morning when they're eager for breakfast.
Reservations are not required but highly recommended. During the cafe's busier times, without a reservation, it’s possible to experience a long wait.
Kotori Cafe - Omotesando, Tokyo
Cute, charming and colorful. These are just some of the words visitors use to describe the Kotori Bird Cafe located on Tokyo's popular Omotesando Avenue.
As a bird themed cafe, Kotori is home to a chatty assortment of playful Parakeets, Cockatoos, Cockatiels, Lovebirds, and Budgies. The birds are contained behind a series of glass walls which make it possible to adore them from a distance while enjoying a coffee or tea alongside hand decorated bird themed cakes and tarts. For an extra charge, guests can enter the touching room. A room where up to three people at a time in five-minute intervals can mingle, pet and take flash-free photos with two birds from a pre-selected list.
Unlike many animal-themed cafes, you can stay and bird watch for as long as you'd like at Kotori. And this, of course, means you'll have plenty of time to browse the postcards, stationery, books and bird stuffed animals available in their irresistible souvenir shop.
Harry Hedgehog Cafe - Roppongi, Tokyo
As the first of its kind, Harry's Hedgehog Cafe in Roppongi offers a unique twist on the ever-popular cat cafes that have taken over Japan.
Hedgehogs, known for their prickly spines, are typically cast as unfriendly and hard to handle but at Harry's visitors get to experience the softer side of these spiky, often sleepy creatures.
1,400 yen (about $12) gets you 30 minutes with a hedgehog of your choice. Cafe workers teach you how to hold your hedgehog, and for an extra 540 yen (about $5) you can purchase a snack ramekin of squirmy mealworms to feed and delight your new friend.
Harry's has opened additional cafes in Harajuku and Yokohama some of which also feature rabbits, Fennec foxes, otters, and chinchillas.
The Pug Cafe "Living Room" - Kyoto, Japan
While themed cafes continue to grow in popularity, many animal-loving entrepreneurs are focusing on opening breed specific establishments. And the Pug Cafe in Kyoto is one of the latest leading this trend.
At the cafe, visitors can cuddle with a grumble — the term used to describe a group of pugs — in a cozy space reminiscent of a living room. Each pug wears a jersey with his or her name across the back, which makes initiating conversation with these free-roaming, social pugs incredibly easy.
Human and doggie snacks are available for purchase and if you post pictures on social media while at the cafe, you get extra doggie treats which makes these pugs very happy.
Reservations are recommended and pricing depends on the length of your stay. Before visiting make sure to check the cafe’s calendar available on their website. It's not unusual for the operating hours to vary.
Tokyo Snake Center - Harajuku, Tokyo
Another first in Harajuku is the Tokyo Snake Center. At this cafe, it's possible to observe and hold a variety of non-venomous python, milk, rat and corn snakes from all over the world.
1000 yen (about $9) includes one drink with your favorite snake, contained in a secured, transparent box at your table. For an extra 540 yen (about $5) it's possible to hold up to two snakes from a pre-selected list with a knowledgeable snake-doting handler by your side.
While travelers visit the Tokyo Snake Center for a variety of reasons, cafe manager Hisamitsu Kaneko says most venture to the center to face and overcome their fear of snakes. And many, he says leave “healed.”
Zoo Café - Budapest, Hungary
What happens when you take a cafe in Budapest and add in Bearded dragons, Corn snakes, Hermann's tortoises, Fireleg tarantulas, Green iguanas, Four-toed hedgehogs, Veiled chameleons, Sulphur-crested cockatoos, Scarlet macaw parrots, Leopard geckos, Lionhead rabbits and Maine Coon cats? You get the Zoo Café.
Established in 2014, Budapest's Zoo Café provides a unique opportunity for travelers to interact with a variety of four-legged, furry and winged creatures in a clean and friendly setting.
Before meeting any of the animals, a handler will present the cafe's safety guidelines and rules. An extensive food and drink menu along with a knowledgeable staff, which has a reputation for being exceptional, makes the Zoo Café an ideal choice for children, large groups, mammal and reptile enthusiasts the world over.
Meerkat Cafe - Seoul, South Korea
Chatty, adorable, extroverted and insatiably curious, Meerkats naturally take center stage at the Meerkat Cafe in Seoul, South Korea.
Purchase of a drink, from a narrow selection, covers the cost of admission. Once you've ordered and removed your shoes, it's time to get in line for some quality Meerkat time. The mobs or gangs - both terms used to describe large groups of Meerkats - are kept in glass playpens. Once you've entered a pen, you'll have 10 minutes to cuddle and take pictures.
Due to their curious nature, Meerkats gravitate to anything that dangles or shines, and they instinctively dig and seek out places to burrow. To protect your valuables and avoid a Meerkat emptying your pockets it's best to leave your jewelry, and other valuables behind.
In addition to Meerkats, the cafe is home to raccoons, cats, wallabies, Arctic foxes and South African genets. If possible try to visit on a weekday. Traffic at the cafe swells on the weekends which guarantees longer wait times.
Thanks Nature Cafe - Seoul, South Korea
In 2011, Seoul welcomed its first sheep themed cafe called Thanks Nature Cafe.
In an outdoor enclosed pen, sheep doting owner Lee Kwang-ho cares for two sheep which he brings from Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm in Gangwon province. With the purchase of a drink, guests can enter the enclosed area to pet and feed these gentle and endearing animals.
Given the sheep's thick coats and Seoul's sweltering temperatures, Lee brings the sheep back to the farm during the summer months. The best time to visit the cafe is during the fall and winter when temperatures have cooled, and the sheep are most comfortable.
Thanks Nature Cafe offers a 10% discount to anyone born during the Korean Zodiac's year of the sheep - 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 - if that's you don't forget to bring your ID.
The Ailuromania Cafe - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Located in Dubai, the Ailuromania Cafe is proudly the Middle East's first cat cafe.
Co-owned by enterprising, cat obsessed sisters Iman and Allaa Ahmed Al Aulaqi, the cafe is home to about 20 rescued and adopted felines. Each of which has been neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and cleared for any behavioral or health issues by a veterinarian.
The cafe's generous space makes it easy for visitors to stretch out and relax with coffee while the friendly residents explore, sunbathe and nap on plush pillows. There's even a separate room complete with bunk beds for the cats to retreat to if they need a break from their adoring human fans.
An unexpected bonus is a printer located by the cafe's entrance. Before you leave you can print out all of the cat selfies you took with your phone. It's the perfect way to bring the memories you made at the Ailuromania Cafe back to wherever you call home.
Owl Cafe - Moscow, Russia
Roughly 4,600 miles from Tokyo, where animal-themed cafes were born, Moscow has welcomed its first owl cafe.
This anti-cafe — a place where you pay for the amount of time you spend there instead of paying for what you consume — is home to six domesticated owls each with distinct personalities. Mood permitting, visitors can meet, stroke and feed Morty a Screech owl, Alexander the Great a Barn owl, Tawny owls Fedor, Forest, and Bulya and Mira a Lapland owl.
Mark Lobyntsev, the owner of the Owl Cafe, hopes that by providing access to these mysterious and fascinating animals, guests will have an unforgettable experience and leave a bit happier than when they walked in.
Romeow Cat Bistro - Rome, Italy
When Valentina and Maurizio decided to open a vegan bistro in 2014, they knew their fellow meat and cheese loving Italians would be hesitant to embrace the concept. But with the introduction of six fuzzy felines, the Romeow Cat Bistro has become a popular destination for both the cuisine and, of course, the cats.
Resident cats Ira, Lamú, Maos, Frida, Romeo, and Nino all hail from the Luna Di Formaggio animal rescue and judging by the bistro's stunning Instagram pics all six cats are beyond content in their new home.
While the Romeow Cat Bistro was inspired by Japan's cat cafe's, Valentina wanted to introduce a refined spin on the traditional concept. As a result, the bistro offers original raw and vegan mains and desserts influenced by flavors from all around the world. Whether you visit the Romeow Cat Bistro for the food or to meet their six cuddly cats, or both, you won't be disappointed.