I don’t know what happened, but we went away for the summer and came back to discover that our neighborhood has become a paradise of cat cafés. Shortly before we left, a new place opened a few streets over with the overly generic name of The Animal Cafe; because of one thing or another, we didn’t end up visiting it until last weekend. It’s not very far! Probably twice the distance as current standby Cara Meow Cat Café, but that works out to be basically ten minutes in a tuk-tuk, and much closer than any other cat café we’d known about. Also! As the name suggests, this place is in the mold of Little Zoo (which, you may recall, is way off in Pak Kret, technically a different province of Thailand) and does not content itself with cats alone, declaring itself to be an “animal café”. It might be more accurate to call The Animal Cafe a slavish recreation of Little Zoo: it has the main attraction of that place, fennel foxes and two different kinds of owl. It does not have a meerkat, but when we were there the meerkat was asleep the whole time so it doesn’t really count.
However, The Animal Cafe manages to outdo Little Zoo by also having two caracals, a serval, and, finally, a racoon. Caracals and servals are African cats, about twice as big as a housecat; the serval looks like a mangy cheetah and caracals look like pumas with ear tufts. They are kept in a special enclosure; they are reasonably tame, but I would not be particularly surprised if visitors were bitten or clawed. The staff is very attentive (to the animals, at least) and is visibly attempting to domesticate them, but I have my doubts.
There are also a handful of regular cats (undistinguished) who live with a fennec fox, who seemed most interested in sleeping; some gerbils; some chinchillas; a fish tank full of tiny ruby shrimp (not for petting); a second fish tank with some axolotls; and also some hermit crabs. There’s a lot going on. Most of the clientele was there to see the non-housecats and the raccoon. The raccoon did not seem particularly pleased to be there, though everyone gave him a lot of snacks; periodically he escaped from his cage and the staff attempted to capture him while trying to dissuade visitors from helping, presumably for fear that somebody would get bit.
The Animal Cafe is fairly expensive: 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children just to get through the door, though that money can be applied to food and drink. Our food arrived; our drinks never did, though that was understandable as the staff was busy chasing the raccoon.
Here Harriet attempts to interest a run-of-the-mill cat:
Here Harriet continues to try to interest a run-of-the-mill cat; above her to the left a fennec fox sleeps, while above her to the left (and behind a wall) a caracal considers attacking the clientele:
Here is the sleeping fennec fox:
And here Harriet attempts to feed a runaway raccoon:
Walking back with the idea of going to Cara Meow Cat Café, the old standby, we made it a two cat-café day in an unexpected way by discovering the just opened Cat’s Melodic Hotel & Café, which is along Sathu Pradit road, probably about halfway between the Animal Café and Cara Meow. I will quote the English portion of their promotional material:
—Night!! Beer Thai, Lao, lots of import beer
***Third floor is a Cat hotel & first floor is Café and Bar (so don’t worry about sound disturb your cat ^^
This basically gets across everything you need to know about Cat’s Melodic Hotel & Café: the ground floor is a cat café with the notable idea of serving alcohol, and the third floor is a cat hotel where, I believe, cats can be boarded. Also they evidently have live music on the weekends which is why it is a melodic hotel & café? But this place is even newer than the Animal Café and we were the only visitors when we were there; there were no musicians, but there was rather more reggae than is usually the case at a cat café.
How are the cats? There are not that many of them, maybe six or seven of them? They are not particularly exotic-looking cats, and most of them seem to be related, though they are not as jaded as most cats who live in cat cafés are. You sit on the floor on pillows that are in the shape of cats’ faces (a nice touch) and the wooden tables are also shaped like cats. There is no doubt that you are in a cat café. They do serve beer, which is a nice touch; the proprietor explained to me that they were also a bar, though she said that their opening hours were from 7 to 7 so maybe they are more of an afternoon sort of bar with cats. No one had yet brought any cats to stay in the cat hotel upstairs, but she had high hopes. Here is a general photograph:
Maybe the best thing about this cat café are the descriptions of the cats. Many of the cat cafés have descriptions of the cats; often these are worry-inducing because the pictures of the cats on the wall don’t seem to match the cats in the café and what might have happened? Who knows. That is not a problem with the Cat’s Melodic Hotel & Café; they have six cats and six pictures of cats, and the pictures all match up with the cats. This is probably a function of 1) their having so few cats; and 2) their being new. Who knows what might happen in the future with all the cats coming in and out of the cat hotel. But for now you can enjoy their description of the complicated lives of their cats and the intimations of complicated neighborhood relations: