By Angie House
Southeast Asia is globally known for their love of pet-themed cafés which can be found throughout Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam; and of course in Japan and Taiwan, where the cat café culture was born.
What Is A Cat Café?
The concept is incredibly simple: customers pay a fee to hang out with cats. The cat-themed cafés vary in the number of cats residing at each, some house long-term residents while others house adoptable felines. Cat cafes are great for people who aren’t able to own a cat, yet would like to spend some quality time with them.
Cat lovers visit these furry-friend-filled havens to experience the comforting, restorative qualities cats provide with their warmth, sweet sounds, and cuddling qualities. Café owners work hard to create an ambiance that is soft, comfortable, and gentle on all the senses for not only the customers but for the cats too.
Why Is Cat Therapy Good For You?
Don’t underestimate the power of animal love. Stroking or cuddling a cat can have a positive effect on your health. Playing with animals can boost serotonin and dopamine levels, two chemicals that help regulate mood. All throughout history, cats have been regarded as sacred, healing animals.
Just petting a cat or curling up for a catnap with a feline friend has positive calming effects. Research shows that felines can relieve stress and lower blood pressure, release endorphins, and alleviate loneliness, pain, and stress. And studies have found that the hormone oxytocin is released when we’re around pets, triggering feelings of happiness.
Sometimes called the “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin increases a person’s sense of well-being. Pet therapy isn’t a cure-all, of course, but having some animal companionship could be helpful for many stressed-out city dwellers.
Singapore’s Cat Connections
Neko No Niwa, which means ‘cat garden’ inJapanese, is the cat café that started it all. It was founded in December 2013 by owners, Sam and Sue who wanted to bring the experience of visiting cat cafés to the region.
Singapore’s first cat café is located on the popular pedestrian street Boat Quay, nearest the Raffles Place station and Clarke Quay. It offers gorgeous views of the Singapore riverfront. If you believe in the “adopt, don’t shop” motto like Sam and Sue, this is the place for you. All the cats at Neko No Niwa were rescued and saved from abandonment and are available for adoption.
With so many playful kitties running around, the positive energy this café exudes is boundless and makes for a great afternoon chillax spot with other fellow cat lovers. You can even stay longer for cat care workshops. The café gets especially crowded on the weekends, so it’s best to arrange a reservation in advance.
Address: 54A Boat Quay (Level 2), Singapore 049843. Hours of Operation: Monday/Wednesday/Friday 11am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-10pm Admission Fee: First hour–$12, 3-hour pass–$24, Whole day pass–$32.
The Cat Café was founded in June 2014 and is located above the bustling retail hive of Bugis Street. Compared to other cat cafés that usually only allot an hour per entry fee, The Cat Café offers unlimited time with the resident kitties. It’s home to 15 to 20 ex-stray or adopted cats. It’s spacious and well lit and the cats take centre stage.
Plastered all around the walls are introductions to the furry personalities, including tips so you can properly forge connections with that special kitty. Grab a freshly brewed coffee and a pastry, as you may be stuck there for hours.
Address: 241B Victoria Street, Singapore 188030. Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-10pm, and Monday, 3pm-10pm. Admission Fee: Whole day pass–$16. Features free WiFi and a complimentary soft drink.
Age Restrictions: Minimum age is 6-years-old, and children under 12 years old are required to be accompanied by an adult.
Meomi Cat Café was founded in July of 2014, and is also located nearest the Bugis station. It is a small and cosy space that offers customers a nice afternoon get-away with plenty of comfortable seating areas.
They house seven adorable felines of less-commonly-seen breeds in Singapore. The small intimate space lets you get up close and personal with every cat in the room. They have plenty of toys for the cats, including wall steps and a catwalk, and they sell cat paraphernalia including, badges, stickers, and mugs. The place is sure to keep you entertained for hours.
Address: 668 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188801. Hours of Operation: 7 days a week, 11am-10pm (Last entry to the cat room is 9pm). Admission Fee: $13 for adults and $7 for children, includes free WiFi, and a complimentary drink.
Age Restrictions: Minimum age is 6-years-old.
Although not a café, Cats Safari Singapore opened in October 2015 and is another cat haven in Singapore worth mentioning. It is a place for cat lovers to gather and relax with the company of the resident therapy cats. They have a back-to-nature theme, where cats can be cats.
Cats Safari is open to the public on the weekends, making it the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long, stressful work week. What better way to calm those frazzled nerves than with a warm cat purring in your lap? Be sure to call ahead and book a personal therapy slot.
Address: 110 Turf Club Road (Sunny Heights), Bukit Timah, Singapore 288000. Hours of Operation: Sat: 2pm–6pm; Sun: 1pm–6pm. Admission Fee: $5 for adults and $3 for students.
Whether you’re a local Singaporean unable to own a cat, an expat missing your cat from back home, or simply travelling through the area and need some cuddle time, rather than blowing all your cash on an expensive dinner or a trip to the spa, indulge in some cat therapy that won’t break the bank.
Take an afternoon cat café tour to check out one or all four of these cat havens on our list. Chillax and find yourself surrounded by fluffy, lovable felines.
This article is dedicated to Jelly who passed away at the age of 21 on the 29th of June this year. Jelly was our Lifestyle Collective Youtube star, often featured in our Tried & Tested videos.