As we mentioned before, La Gatoteca is the physical headquarters of the NGO ABRIGA, as a neko café or a cat café. Although videos and pictures letting us know about this kind of establishment are starting to come to our media, this is all Greek to many people yet… Well, we should travel a little further than Greece, to Korea or Japan, to hear about neko cafés, as it was in these countries where the concept was created and developed,The first of these places was created in 2004 in Seoul, South Korea. It was called Giocat, and it is still active. From there it was easy to spread this type of cafés to Japan, where they love, support and admire cats; and where there are more than 100 neko cafés now, of which 60 are located in its capital, Tokyo. Such growth was due to the pace of life led by Japanese, the prohibition in many blocks of flats to own pets and its culture on the cats, petting a cat being for the Japanese a way of meditation, or as they say them, “reading the air”. Neko Cafe opened in March 2012 in Vienna , a normal café but with the presence of six cats, becoming the first cat cafe in Europe, at the moment.
But, what are they really? All premises have several things in common, most important, the presence of cats residing at the facility. Some of them have cats from different races, from only one race, only kittens, homeless cats, small dogs and cats and let your imagination run wild… They usually serve some food, whether drinks, desserts, and so on, free or on payment. And they usually have a range of additional services, such as cat toys, prizes and rewards for animals, reading material, internet connection, etc.. You usually pay for the time you spend in the café, there is a stipulated amount for one hour, two hours, one afternoon … Once inside, customers can play with the cats, pet them, give them prizes or simply , contemplate them.
But more important, I think, are the rules of behaviour all neko cafés impose on customers. It may sound a little harsh, but take into account these places are opened with the idea of respect for animals, so before you have to read what you can and cannot do. They are simple things and everyone should really know and apply without assistance, such as not to disturb a sleeping cat, not to chase them, not to lift them in the air, not to force them to be in a place if they do not want … They show all them in a sheet full of funny little drawings of cats, graphically explaining all the rules.
Finally, I leave a small selection of images from several neko cafés to show you a visual idea of the concept. I hope you like the idea and we can all soon be together in La Gatoteca playing with and stroking kittens!