For many people, a local café is a second home, a place to relax with friends or tap out a personal masterpiece on a worn laptop. It must be good business sense, then, for owners to shower patrons with warm drinks, comfort food and a cozy atmosphere. What could be more cozy and comfortable, though, than a fuzzy, loveable cat? Very little, it turns out.
'Cat cafés' are rapidly gaining popularity across the globe, and Beijing has been slowly picking up on this snuggly trend – and it's about time, considering how close it is to Taiwan’s original cat café, which opened in 1998. Though a few locations have spent the last year or two ironing out some issues
, several spots seem to be doing well for themselves and man’s furriest friend.
Undoubtedly, the first thing you’ll notice upon entering a cat-filled café is a mass of smiling customers. It might be unclear how many of these animals are properly registered therapy cats
, but they are clearly doing some sterling work in lifting the moods of feline fans across Beijing.
Take a look at our favourite hangouts to get our fur-ball fix.
Located along the trendy Wudaoying Hutong, this Mediterranean-styled bar-café is well-known for supplying the local area with wandering moggies since 2011. Though Sirena stays open until 2am for cocktail drinking, we usually drop by at a more reasonable hour, just to watch the impish white kitten playing with everyone's bag straps under the table.
There are two floors, meaning more opportunity than at most cat cafés for seats – and furry friends. Outside, a constant train of crooning women pass by to admire the occupants – the cats, of course – and to fondle furry ears. Though Sirena boasts 24 cats, the sheer amount of attention they get means you’re unlikely to get consistent interest out of them.
What's on the menu? Start off with a frothy cappuccino (35RMB) while making your attempts to attract your first little friend. If you're looking for something heftier, the dishes with rice (45RMB) make for a solid meal. When the cats aren't enough to cheer you up, snag some sugary wonder in the tasty cheesecake (35RMB).
From several sleek Burmillas, to a breathtakingly beautiful Bengal, to an imperious fluffball who wouldn’t look out of place on Blofeld’s lap, the feline collection at Cat Tales packs some serious fur. So many beautiful cats, in fact, that on our first visit, two were stashed away neatly on shelves.
There are some young kittens, too, often the more playful types. The curious ones love to check out what's on offer, brushing up against unwitting diners to check out their lunch. We had a minor issue with a cheesecake thief – we're all just pawns in their game – but they're so damn cute, you just can't help but cave.
What's on the menu? Get your daily caffeine fix with a good cup of coffee (40RMB) before inadvertently swallowing some fur. If the cats just aren't enough, make a meal out of the spaghetti Bolognese (74RMB, including drink) and top it off with a lovely mango sago (45RMB).
The way to access Cats44 is as quirky as its name – you can find the cozy hutong café through a slightly ramshackle courtyard that is easily missed. When you do find the place, the journey isn’t over yet; it is equally difficult to find a seat. The cats aren’t the rare and expensive breeds you’ll find in other cat cafés, but instead rescue cats. A backroom offers kid-sized tables.
What's on the menu?
Snatch up some delectable treats with some familiar faces – your feline companions for the afternoon. Sip on a mocha with a cat design in the foam (40RMB) or scarf down some cat-shaped chocolate cake (38RMB) to satisfy that sweet craving of yours. If you're looking for something more substantive, the cat-shaped toast (45RMB) will give you enough energy to keep your arms stroking.
Just down the street from Sirena is a more low-key alternative – we slunk into L'infusion and felt as if we had plopped into our living room at home. The serene atmosphere and copious reading material make for a lovely afternoon, so we were expecting a cosy interior to be topped off with a delightful feline friend or two. Unfortunately, the café is home to only three cats, two of whom had no interest in anything other than an afternoon snooze – to be fair, we were on the same page. L'Infusion is a great destination for reading and relaxing with a nice cup o'joe, but it seems more like a 'café with cats' rather than one of our esteemed Cat Café's.
What's on the menu?
Indulge that caffeine addiction with a smooth latté in a variety of flavors (35-38RMB), put down your Kafka to scarf down a pizza (60RMB), or test your sense of adventure with a frothy 'yogurt mousse' (35RMB).
Meow Bar & Coffee
The Promised Land. Cats as far as the eye can see. Meow Bar & Coffee is not only snuggled away in a hip Sanlitun complex, but also boasts a staggering number of fluffy comrades; we counted around ten when we visited. The shop offers small toys, used to bribe cats for their attention (pro tip: buy some milk and watch your chances for furry affection soar). Did we mention there's a kitty playhouse smack dab in the middle of the café? Purr-ific.
What's on the menu?
Clean out that oily lunch with a fresh fruit juice (30-35RMB), sip on a delectable hot chocolate (30RMB) and feast on some smooth red velvet cake (30RMB) as a side-dish to that healthy serving of serotonin from your new little besties.
This little kitty is exhausted – after all, it's hard work taking care of the money