Vienna welcomes Europe's first cat café

Monday, 14 May 2012 8:54 AM

Sonja, Thomas, Moritz, Luca and Momo are the hosts of a new 50 seat cafe, which opened in Vienna earlier this month. But they aren't people - they're cats.

Customers at the cat cafe are invited to play with the friendly felines - who roam free around the premises - while they drink their coffee and eat their sandwiches. Previously, they lived in an animal shelter.

The idea is the brainchild of Takako Ishimitsu, who believes that the happiness that a pet can bring should be available to everyone - even if only for half an hour.

The 47 year old, who originally hails from Japan, told the media: "One of our goals is to provide some happiness to people who cannot have cats on their own, because of their jobs or family members suffering from allergies.

And at the same time, I can do something good for the Vienna animal shelter which I have been supporting for years."

Perhaps unsurprisingly (you only need to look on the internet to realise that we have a bit of a fascination with our furry companions), the cafe has been a massive hit with locals.

"More than 99 per cent the reactions are positive," Ishimitsu said.

She also explained her desire to expose Vinenna to more Japanese culture: "Showing unknown Japanese concepts is good for Austria. I had various ideas, and the cat cafe project was the least difficult to realize."

Ishimitsu spent three years negotiating with city officials over hygiene issues before she could realise her dream.

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