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November 19, 2013

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Cat cafes purr-fect for feline fanatics

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While coffeehouses with the furry hosts tend toward the expensive, they still attract a special clientele. Hu Min satisfies our curiosity about the trend.

For many people, a visit to one of Shanghai’s 10 or more cat cafes is more than just finding a cup of java and a nosh.

For them, having a warm, furry kitty in their lap or snoozing at the feet is relaxing and worth a little extra cost and maybe some extra travel to reach their favorite cat cafe.

Some are students or others who can’t have their own cats. Some just like the idea of watching different colors and kinds of cats at play and at rest. The cafes function kind of like a rent-a-cat.

The idea of cat-themed cafes originated in Taiwan, and soon spread to Japan.

In Shanghai, there are at least 10 such cafes. Many are popular, but costs can be high and patronage very particular — owners said they aren’t big money-makers and most are in the business because they love cats.

It’s a lot of work — imagine having so many cats and keeping your home clean, tidy and fresh. There are vet bills and costs for food and litter.

Business experts say location is extremely important and detailed market surveys are essential.

The cafes usually feature a relaxed, homey atmosphere where people can doze, sit and read over a cup of coffee and play with the cats. Sometimes their drinks or snacks are also feline-themed. Some have space without cats for those who aren’t cat-crazy.

Many encourage a community feel with activities like lectures, festive parties and even psychological counseling to lure consumers. Some cafes also make it part of their mission to find homes for strays.

Cat Eyes

Stepping into Cat Eyes, a cafe in downtown Jing’an District (Rm 17A, Bldg A, 129 Datian Rd), visitors will be greeted by more than 10 cats. They love being around people and jump onto visitors’ knees and may just fall asleep there.

The owner, 25-year-old Shanghainese Zhu Qian’an, opened the cafe two years ago on Guoshun Road in Yangpu District, where several universities are located, drawing many students.

“Many university students are pet lovers, but they don’t have the conditions to raise cats, thus they visit our cafe frequently to enjoy a moment with cats,” Zhu says.

After a time, she says, six similar cafes opened in the area after sniffing a business opportunity, and Zhu decided to move the cafe to Jing’an District. She expanded her cafe in a 132-square-meter apartment she bought to accommodate 11 cats. Of them, two were stray — Zhu picked them up on the streets in Yangpu District.

“Each cat has its own fans,” Zhu says.

A stray cat named Chou Niu (meaning “ugly girl” in Chinese) was picked up by Zhu when it was three months old, and a fluffy white chinchilla cat are among the most popular. Others also have some cute names, some given by their fans, like Mo Cha (matcha green tea) or Bao Zi (steamed bun).

Zhu now gets a mix of office workers and students as patrons. She plans to host some activities such as cat photo contests or cat drawing contests in the near future.

At home, Zhu has a cat, a dog, a rabbit and a ferret. She designs pet clothing and sells it online. “I want to do something I like,” she says.

Zhu wanted to study veterinary science in college, but majored in business due to her mother’s opposition to her preferred field. After working in advertising and the car business, Zhu decided to do what she wanted.

“The most joyful moment for me is when customers happily play with the cats, and I make friends with some customers because we have the same interests,” she says.

Zhu says she knows she’s not going to get rich running the cafe. She says the store spends at least around 2,000 yuan (US$322) on the cats per month.

“I opened the store because that’s where my interests lie, not to make big profits,” she says.

Zhu hopes that she can help inspire people to stop animal abuse and help convince pet owners not to abandon their pets.

“Some people get a pet in a spur-of-the-moment decision, but they abandon the animals after they lose interest,” she says.


The three-story MiaoÎÚClub cafe inside a longtang (lane) in Xuhui District (Bldg 34, 91 Tianping Rd) has about 20 cats and many of its offerings are linked with cats, such as cookies shaped like a cat’s head and cheesecake shaped like a tabby, as well as a feline-shaped fried rice dish.

There also are a variety of books about cats available for customers to peruse.

The cafe has found a home for more than 10 stray cats, according to the owner.

Fiona Yang, a pet lover who has four cats, visited the cafe with a friend — and they took two of their cats with them.

“The cats inside the cafe are not afraid of people, and we can pet them as much as we like or hold them in our arms as they don’t struggle,” she says.

“They gather around us when food is served, and the two cats we brought along also perk up,” she adds.

Yang spent three hours in the cafe surrounded by five or six cats that would come and go.

Yang says she has visited some other cat-themed cafes as well. One in the Gubei area does not have enough cats for each table, while the cats at another cafe in Hongkou District are kind of afraid of people.

Some netizens complaint that prices are high, about 58 yuan on average per person.

Yang says they spent nearly 500 yuan for dinner for three, which is sort of expensive, but the afternoon tea is cheaper.

“It gives me a warm feeling to spend an afternoon with cats, coffee and cookies,” she says. “I will still choose cat cafes for parties with friends who love cats or raise cats at home.”

Cats on the Loft

The cafe, in Songjiang University Town, is known for helping shelter stray cats and find them homes. University students send strays to the cafe.

Photos of stray cats are posted on the wall, and those who hope to adopt them can fill out an application.

“There are a lot of stray cats in university towns, but students can’t keep them in dormitories, and those who have a loving heart come to us for help and ask whether we can provide a temporary shelter for them,” says David Zhang, the owner.

At one time, there were more than 10 stray cats at the cafe. It has helped find new homes for about 50 stray cats.

The cafe provides a cozy shelter for small stray cats, and a place where they can sit in the sunshine. There were about six cats at the cafe during a recent visit.

The cafe also has become a place for parties for those who love cats, allowing them to exchange helpful experiences about raising cats and share stories.

Some drinks at the cafe are also cat-themed.

Zhang opened the cafe last year. He says he hoped that despite the work, it would be more interesting than other jobs since he loves cats.

The stray cats are sterilized and vaccinated, according to Zhang, adding that the cats can be costly. A bath at a pet clinic costs about 20 to 30 yuan, while sterilization surgery costs 200 to 300 yuan. But he says the cafe still turns a profit. 

• Other cat cafes in town •

Cat-cafe bliss

Address: 2/F, Bldg 1, 8 Taiyuan Rd (near Fenyang Rd)

Tel: 6437-4608

Cost: 93 yuan per person

Cup Cats

Address: Room 101, Bldg 67, 1355 Yuyuan Rd

Tel: 1363-6630-152

Cost: 38 yuan per person

Meow Meow Mia Club (ß÷ß÷ßäѽ)

Address: Room 702, 56 Daxue Rd (near Songhu Rd)

Tel: 5578-0728

Cost: 33 yuan per person

Cat & Coffee

Address: Room 1502, 2077 Yan'an Rd W.

Tel:  1861-6702-115

Cost: 39 yuan per person

• Jaiya’s Animal Rescue

Jaiya’s Animal Rescue (JAR) is a group of expatriate and Chinese individuals who have dedicated a part of their lives to rescuing and finding homes for stray and abandoned animals. JAR holds adoption days twice a month.

Contact JAR via or visit


Age: One year

Breed: Rural dog

Gender: Female

Color: Black

Health: Good

Shadow was rescued when wandering on the streets by expats. She’s very friendly, playful and not aggressive. She does not like to bark and behaves well with other animals.


Breed: Turkish Van

Gender: Female

Color: White

Health: Vaccinated, dewormed

Cassie’s mother was rescued after she was left in the cold while pregnant. Cassie has been cared for by a rescuer since birth. She’s potty trained and does well with other animals.

• S.O.S. Animal Protection

S.O.S. Animal Protection is a non-profit animal rescue group founded by two expats in Shanghai. It focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and finding of new homes for rescued pets who have severe medical conditions, who are handicapped and/or who are abandoned senior pets that need a chance to recover their health and be placed in a better environment. S.O.S., which has helped more than 30 animals, aims to spread the word that these creatures are loving and wonderful just as any “normal” pets.

For more information, please contact S.O.S Animal Protection via

Choco is a lovely puppy rescued by a S.O.S. Animal Protection volunteer from a trash can in People’s Square. He spent seven days in quarantine at Petshome Veterinary Hospital, after which he was vaccinated. Choco is a very sweet and lovely puppy, and currently he is living with a very nice couple who became his foster parents.


Age: 10 months

Breed: Maltese dog

Gender: Male

Color: White

Health: Vaccinated


Age: 1.5 years

Breed: Rural cat

Gender: Male

Color: Dark tiger spot

Health: Vaccinated, spayed

Sirkan was found on November 20, 2012, in a small garden. Volunteers took it to Petshome Veterinary Hospital where Dr Liu examined him. Sirkan is in perfect health, about one and half years old, and had been neutered (Sirkan had a home but either got lost or was abandoned.) Sirkan was vaccinated, and is in a foster home.

• Best Friends

Founded at the end of 2012, Best Friends is a group of expats and Chinese animal lovers who have been devoting themselves to rescuing and finding homes for stray and abandoned small animals. Best Friends holds adoption day on the last Sunday of every month.

Contact Best Friends via or visit their website


Age: Eight months

Breed: Rural dog

Gender: Female

Color: White and brown

Health: Vaccinated, spayed

Bear was abandoned by girls who didn’t want to care for her over the holidays. After straying some days, an ayi found it and gave it to her employer. Bear is very lovely and easily gets attached to people. She is full of energy and likes to be with others. If you think that she’s adorable, please give her a new home.

Big White

Age: Two years

Breed: Rural dog

Gender: Male

Color: White

Health: Vaccinated, spayed

Big White became a street dog when he was less than two months old. When found, he had serious skin problem and blood all over his body because he had been hit by a car. I took him to the hospital and he was healthy one month later. A family adopted him but didn’t want to keep him anymore because of hair loss. He likes to go out very much.



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