In most interviews, you won’t have someone pouncing onto the back of your jacket. Nor will his twin brother try to step on your iPhone, which is recording your interview, to give you a few “kisses”, before settling down on top of your notes and forcing you to read around him.
At Mr. & Mrs. Cat Cafe, interfering kitties are a given, but when the twins and their eight feline friends are all so cute, it’s hard to be annoyed!
The cafe was opened two months ago by two couples, one of which met when they were feeding stray cats, and now want to give other cat-lovers a place to meet and mingle.
“All four of us bring different skills to the cafe,” says Mark Wu, one quarter of the cat-loving clan. “Someone handles merchandise, while another handles quality control, marketing and so on.”
Wu, a business consultant, found out the cafe’s previous owners were thinking of closing shop. So the two couples quickly swooped in to take over the space and licences, added cats, and turned it into a cat and cat-lovers’ haven.
Unlike other cat cafes, this one was designed for cats rather than human visitors.
A huge cat tree stands in the middle of the cosy space, which gives the rambunctious kitties access to a glass runway attached to the ceiling, leading to the shelves where they can curl up. There is also a variety of cat toys, beds, nooks and crannies, and a separate litter box room, which has a ventilation system that takes the smell outside the building.
While Wu and his partners designed the space themselves, they didn’t rely just on their vast cat knowledge. They visited cat cafes in South Korea and Japan, and even arranged a meeting with the owner of the famous MoCHA Cat Cafe in Tokyo for advice on how to design and operate Mr. & Mrs. Cat Cafe.
Their research gave them ideas, like having a place for people to exchange their shoes for the slippers the cafe provides, guidelines on how to handle the cats, and even sticky lint rollers to de-fuzz guests when they leave. (Wearing black to the cafe is not recommended!)
Cuteness Overload at Mr. & Mrs. Cat Cafe
The resident cats are all incredibly friendly and affectionate, and will immediately wander over to check out the new humans who have come into their domain. Little noses start sniffing at you, furry bodies lean against you, and tiny paws brace themselves on your thigh, with big eyes staring into your face.
“Most of these cats were already living with us at our homes,” Wu says, as a three-month-old ginger British shorthair walked across his lap. “We’re very lucky they’re very easy around other humans. We’ve visited cat cafes where the cats there are timid or afraid of people.”
Out of the 10 cats, only the two black Persians were bought from a pet shop. “We fell in love with them,” Wu shrugs.
The two eldest, Ball Ball and Jazz, lived at a stationery shop before moving in with Wu after it closed. The black and white tuxedo cat Noguchi was a friendly street feline Wu found. The two ginger kittens, Curry Bro and Cheese BB, were part of a litter from Wu’s friends’ cats.
White Tiger, Gugu, Charcoal, Casper, and Cheung Chi-ming were similarly rescued or adopted, because all four friends feel very strongly about adopting rather than shopping for pets.
“Pet stores are a huge problem, and we’re aware of that,” Wu laments. “When we bought Charcoal and Casper, they were six months old and had spent their lives in a small cage, which led to their back legs being too weak to jump as well as they should have been able to. I really encourage people to adopt rather than buy at a pet store, which often keeps animals in bad conditions.”
To help encourage adoption, Mr. & Mrs. Cat Cafe is currently talking to local volunteers, who feed the city’s strays, to place stray cats at the cafe. They’ll interact with customers and hopefully find homes.
“We can’t foster too many, in case that stresses out the cats already here, but we’ll definitely try it out,” Wu says. “People think cats are aloof or don’t like to be around humans. Sometimes that’s true, but cats are really affectionate with people who care about them. We hope this cafe gives Hongkongers a chance to meet cats and relax around them, to see what they’re really like.”
With that, judging by all the furry bodies curled up purring and snoozing around us, it seemed a catnap was in order.