Vienna resident, Takako Ishimitsu, finally opened a cat café this year after 3 years of gruelling negotiations with Viennese city officials over hygiene issues. Café Neko (“neko” being the Japanese word for “cat”) is the first of its kind in Europe and follows the lead of numerous such establishments that have sprung up in Japan over the last 14 years. As with Vienna, pets are often forbidden in apartments in Japan, so the cafés there have proved hugely popular amongst stressed workers and people missing animal companionship. Some cafés even specialise in particular types or breeds of cat.
In Café Neko’s case, five rescued animal shelter cats host affairs – lounging around and generously offering themselves up for undivided loving attention from the café’s patrons. Whilst visitors enjoy refreshments and communing with their feline friends, the cats are certainly the ones that seem to have “got the cream”. The residents of Vienna are embracing their first cat hangout with equal enthusiasm – all respectfully adhering to the café’s strict ‘no dogs allowed’ policy.