As a self-confessed animal lover, one of the best experiences I had when travelling in Seoul was visiting the Cat Cafe in Myeongdong! I had read a lot about cat cafes in other cities in Asia, and it just seemed like the cleverest idea – somewhere to sit down with a cup of tea and CUDDLE A KITTY CAT! How is that not a recipe for winning and having the best experience of your life?
The cafe is down a side street and then up three flights of stairs, so it can be hard to find. However, they have a mascot who stands at a nearby busy cross street in the centre of Myeongdong in a full cat costume, so once you spot it, you know you can’t be too far away.
As you go in, you immediately change your shoes for a pair of slippers they give you before you even enter the space. You also have to buy a drink immediately before you can sit down and start playing with the cats. The drinks are much more expensive than usual (around $8 AUD for a cappucino), however as they don’t limit the amount of time you can spend in the cafe, you could conceivably stretch a single coffee out over the course of three or four hours and get as much petting time as you want.
The staff are also quite strict about rules of the cafe, all designed to ensure the cats’ comfort. Things like, you’re not allowed to pick up the cats unless they specifically come up to you and jump in your lap.
They also tell you about how to identify the cats that are most likely to bite or scratch when over-provoked. Cats who don’t play well with small children are marked by a special pointy felt collar.
You also get the option of buying little cans of cat food which you can then feed to the cats. They all know how to listen out for the sound of a can being opened, and you can actually feed them with a teaspoon!
I was really impressed by the design of the cafe itself. With lots of ledges built in for cats to sun themselves, and climbing frames that allowed them to climb up high and seat themselves high up away from human interference, they’ve really designed it for the cats comfort. If they need quiet time away from people, they can certainly get it!
The staff are very impressive as well. They all clearly know all the cats by name and character…for instance, they know that this little charcoal cat loves to sprint and make a break for the door as soon as it opens, so they always grab him before any customers walk out!
The staff were also dedicated to keeping the cat cafe clean, so while you might think that it could very easily get dirty with shedded cat hair, scattered litter and other icky things, it’s actually quite the opposite. In the two hours that we spent in the cat cafe, the staff went around at least four or five times with a mop that caught all the cat hair, and went around spraying and wiping all surfaces as well.
K really enjoyed the Cat Cafe as well, even though he would be the first person to admit that he was probably more of a dog person prior to our getting together as a couple. Having now lived with my beloved cat Darcy for the past two years, I think I’ve managed to convert him to a cat lover!
Going to the Cat Cafe in Myeongdong was a wonderful experience – not just for the opportunity to pet cats (something I was strongly missing since I hadn’t seen my own cat for two and a half weeks!), but also because it was the perfect chance to sit down and unwind after a busy day of being a tourist.
We actually went in the late afternoon/evening directly after we finished a tour of the DMZ (de-militarised zone) between North and South Korea. Having something fun and relaxing to do really helped to smooth out any sadness or heavy emotions that resulted from the war-centric day tour. I highly recommend a visit to the Cat Cafe to everyone!