Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Taipei's Cat Cafés

If you're looking for some lazy, luxurious moments of self-indulgence, cats and cafés go hand in hand. The people of Taipei understand this perfectly, and as a result the city abounds with cat cafés. In fact, Taiwan originated the concept of the cat café, the first in the world opening in Taipei in 1998.

A rarely mentioned benefit of these cafés is that they provide a home for rescue cats. The average life of a street cat in Taiwan is about two years. Attacked by dogs and victims of the wet climate, traffic and numerous diseases, many stray cats are lucky if they end up in rescue centres such as Animals Taiwan and The Sanctuary. However, once cats reach adulthood they lose their appeal to new owners, who often want a kitten to raise, and adult cats can spend years waiting for a new home.

So cat cafés are a win-win for cats and visitors, whose landlords may not allow pets or who can't commit to being a pet owner.

We've visited Mask and Minimal cat cafés.

Mask, located at No. 64 Chang An West Road (長安西路64號), is about ten minutes' walk from Zhongshan MRT Station on the red line and opposite the Museum of Contemporary Art, so you can combine your coffee with culture for an afternoon's entertainment.

Mask cat café, Taipei

Mask Café is cosy and has three cats, who are all mellow and cuddly.

The cafe also sells delicious blueberry tarts.

Minimal Café is about fifteen minutes' walk from Guting MRT Station, at No. 42, Taishun St. Lane 2. Despite its name, Minimal is larger than Mask and is home to many more cats. We counted about ten during our visit.

Minimal cat cafe, Taipei

In the interest of science, I ordered a blueberry cheesecake, which was the closest comparison I could find to the blueberry tart I had at Mask. The cheesecake was equally good, so it will have to be location or number of cats that's the deciding factor between which of these cafés to visit.

The many strange people coming and going at cat cafés can be stressful for cats, and it's important to be gentle and considerate of their feelings. While most cafés allow pictures to be taken, don't use a flash, and don't hold the camera close to the cats' faces.

The cats are accustomed to plenty of stroking, and they will soon leave if they don't like it, but don't pick the cats up. They'll climb onto you if they want to get extra close.

As well as Mask and Minimal, Taipei's cat cafés include Yaboo, near Dongmen MRT Station; Su Huo Ling Workshop, which also sells cat accessories; T&F Café, very close to Songshan Creative Park; and Toast Chat, near Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station.

A few cafés don't allow children under the age of twelve, and the odd one charges a small entrance fee or has a minimum purchase requirement.

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