What began as a quirky Japanese trend in 2004 (though started in Taiwan in 1998) has now reached the Baltic shores.
Cat cafés have popped up in Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius in the last year, each with their own flavor, ambiance, and, of course, cats.
Kassikohvik Nurri in Tallinn (Tartu maantee 24) is home to some of the liveliest and interactive cats of all three countries. In fact, leave your bag or purse unattended for a few seconds and you might find that a cat has made itself quite at home among your belongings. Turn around for too long and you might find yourself with a cat jumping and perching on your shoulder, nuzzling your head with mad abandon.
Enjoy the pancakes, salads, sumptuous chocolate cakes, and, naturally, coffee, with some of the frothiest cappuccinos around. All, remarkably and delightfully, free of cat hair.
While interaction with the eight or so cats happens all day, official feeding times are 15:30 and 20:00. One may purchase a nutritious “raw meal” for the cats to enjoy. Cats are available for adoption.
Moving south to the Riga cat café, Minka (located on Meža iela 4a, Pārdaugava, Āgenskalns area, not far from the Saturday Kalnciema market) is home to very, very mellow cats. Sometimes prone to lap sitting, the cats mostly act as cats do – ignoring those around them and sleeping.
However, for what the café lacks in lively kitty interaction, it makes up for with some of the best food in Riga.
Absolutely surprising is the amount of choices, flavors, and texture combinations, wine selection and dishes. One does not generally expect beef steak in red wine sauce with truffle purée or duck breast in celery-apple sauce and cranberry bullion sauce at a cat café! All of the dishes are, once again, refreshingly free of cat hair. Definitely a place to make reservations, especially on weekends, as tables fill up fast. Cats are not available for adoption.
Lastly, in Vilnius, the Kačių kavinė (at J. Jasinskio gatvės 1) hosts an energetic and contemplative clowder of cats. Be forewarned, however. Ordering the smoked salmon will make you quite popular.
The idea behind most of the cat cafés is to provide humans with a bit of animal bonding time, and bring joy to children and adults who may not be able to keep an animal in their homes. Especially during this winter season, be mindful of outdoor animals trying to seek shelter from the cold, especially in wheel wells of cars, and enjoy the cozy kitty company at any one of the Baltic cat cafés.
Photos by Monika Tomsevica and Emma Ikstruma