Have you ever thought to yourself, “gee, this cup of tea is lovely, but it would be so much better if there were 10 cats near me!” Of course you have. Yearn no more; Copenhagen’s first cat cafe is here. Cafe Miao, opened in 2014, is part of a growing number of cat-centric places for those who cannot own a pet in their home.
The first cat cafe, opened in 1998 in Taiwan; it immediately attracted a huge number of tourists, particularly Japanese tourists, who often are not allowed to have pets due to small living spaces in urban areas. Soon, the cat cafe business was booming in Japan, with dozens now open across the country.
Luckily for us in Copenhagen, cat cafes are making their way around the world and one has finally arrived, smack-dab in the middle of the city. Opened in 2014 by Miao Hansen, the cafe lets you play with cats while also enjoying a coffee or meal.
There are eight cats at Cafe Miao: Åse, Lego, Guffe, Panter, Peter, Snehvide, Stoffer and Tiger. Though it’s a big space, the small number of cats does seem to take up a significant area. “I wouldn’t have more than 10 here,” Miao tells me, “Because the cats would get too stressed out otherwise. They each need a certain amount of space – they get territorial.” All cats were rescues from shelters or people who could no longer care for them, and all have an acclimatization process to get to know the other cats.
Visiting the cafe is easy – while many cat cafes charge a cover or hourly fee, Miao simply asks for a minimum 50 DKK order per person and you can stay as long as you like. You should also know that all the food comes shaped like cats. Burgers, patties of rice. All of it. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes. Even our lattes had cat foam art.
So as you can imagine, the whole experience is pretty surreal. The customers dig into their cat-shaped sandwiches while constantly keeping an eye on the nearest cat, who could not be more aloof. It’s a moment of pride when a cat actually chooses to interact with you.
The space is decidedly not-Danish looking; rather than small, dark, cosy space, it’s a large, light room with lots of place for cats to climb and scratch. The cats seem to love it, jumping from the tables to the shelves like they own the place.
Miao herself is thrilled to have started the business of her dreams. Having had cats since a young age in her home country of China, she’s dedicated equally to her customers and her cats.
The launch took a year with a particularly long process of getting the health administration to allow the serving of food. “They visited a lot in the beginning” Miao says, “because cat cafes are new here so they weren’t sure it could be done the right way. But we’ve made sure the kitchen and cat area are completely separate.”
Actually, they’re on different floors; the register area is even separated by a glass door. It doesn’t get much more separate than this, unless you cooked the food in another building.
I love cats, but I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy the cat cafe format. I mean, wouldn’t it feel…forced? Would the cats even like me? It turns out, mostly they did not. They’re cats, after all, and can’t be made to do anything they don’t damn well feel like doing. But I was surprised how quickly I adjusted to what is, let’s be real, a pretty quirky premise.
One of the cats in particular, Peter, seemed to enjoy sitting on my table with his tail swishing dangerously near my coffee, having his head scratched. I am a sucker for this kind of thing. If not for an otherwise busy schedule, I would still be there, covered in cat hair, scratching Peter’s ears and throat.
As Miao and I sit talking, one of the cats sashays across the floor and all the customer’s eyes turn to him. “Look at that strut!” I say. “Oh yes,” Miao tells me, “all the cats here are supermodels.”
Visit Cafe Miao
H. C. Andersens Boulevard 5A
1553 København V
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 8 pm