There is such a calming presence about cats. Their moves are slow and sleepy, but they can be quick and sharp when needed. You can stroke and play with them, but only if they want to. You can caress their soft and gentle fur, when they climb at you and slowly nestle on your laps. You can watch them asleep, oblivious to the world. If they do not want to play, they will make sure you get the hint. After all, they are the kings of ignorance and comfort.
The idea of cafés full of cats came from Japan. I suspect that it was born out of necessities of modern living, as for some having a pet is a luxury. The way we live now: being able to travel extensively, live abroad more easily or just working long hours, makes us pet un-friendly. When I was a child, having a pet was something normal, expected. Almost every child in my neighbourhood had a dog or a cat, or at least a hamster. My sister and I used to have both – a dog and a hamster. On a contrary my husband’s home was a cat-friendly always.
I do not mind cats. In a way, I admire their self-respect and independence. They are fluffy, little balls of fur, soft and nice to hold. When we went to Tunisia, we could see cats everywhere, especially in the hotel we stayed in. They acted like they owned the place. They would sneak into your room, hide under the bed and demand a lot of attention. They would settle on your laps, completely unconcerned by your reaction. They would look at you, with a challenging glimpse in their eyes, daring you not to play or move them from your laps.
This cat café in Budapest is located near the St. Stephen’s cathedral. Hidden away in a tiny corner street, packed with cars – parked on both sides. We were desperately looking for a nice place to have our coffee, and we were incredibly lucky to spot this little gem with a big “Cat Café” sign. Funnily enough I did not even think we could see any cats, I just assumed that the name of this place was cute. Simply put – I did not expect any cats wandering around and looking into my cup of tea.
When we went through the door, a young girl asked us if this is our first time here. I was surprised, as I just came in to have something to drink and perhaps to eat. I did not expect any special rules in an ordinary café. But there was nothing ordinary about this place. The cat comfortably sleeping near the door made that clear quite quickly. We were in the cats den!
The café is surprisingly spacious, laid out on two levels, with a room hidden away from the door. This secret room had no windows and was quiet dark. There were some comfortable places for people to seat on the floor, and there was a space filled with baskets for cats to sleep in . The cats have a total freedom , sit on your lap or climb on the table to check which coffee you are having. There is an option to buy some treats for them as well, and by judging the weight of some of the residents, the treats must be quite popular.
If you sit upstairs, you can be almost sure, you will not be interrupted. As we were told, cats rarely climb the stairs and prefer wandering around the ground floor, in their green-yellow heaven. The majority of cats were sleeping peacefully in their baskets and did not react at all, when I stroked them. Their fur was soft and nice and their body warm. One of the cats opened its eyes and flashed green in the semi-dark room. Then he decided to go back to sleep.
The coffee, tea and cakes we had at the café were delicious. So it is not about cats only, it is about providing great service and exceptional company. On our way back, I went down to use the rest room and was completely surprised by a cat sitting on the washing bowl, looking thirsty and demanding water out of the tap. She kindly let me photograph her and I turned on the tap for her. We said goodbye to the rest of the cat family and made our way towards St. Stephen’s cathedral. The cat café was a perfect stop, to recharge our batteries in the middle of the afternoon.
District VI, Cat Café Budapest, 3 Révay u., opposite St. Stephen’s Basilica, look for a small side street. Metro 1, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út.
Open daily 10am-10pm
http://www.catcafebudapest.hu (Hungarian only)