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Coffee and cats, a purrfect combination

07-04-2011 16:32 BJT

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

SHANGHAI - When a 5-year-old girl swung a cat toy, a small yellow Bengal cat with large black spots suddenly jumped, caught the toy and rolled over. The girl giggled, touched its paw and said "how cute".

This is a common scene at the Ningjing Cat Cafe in Shanghai's Baoshan district, where cat lovers can play with purebred cats while sipping their coffee.

A girl plays with a cat at the Ningjing Cat Cafe in Shanghai.

[Provided to China Daily]

"My daughter fell in love with cats when she first came here. But she is too young to raise a cat, so my wife and I bring her here to play," said the girl's father Zhu Hui.

The first floor of the caf is a small store selling cat food and products. On the second floor, seven cats rest on carpets, sofas, cat climbing frames, or customers' laps.

The 40-square-meter cafe consists of two rooms, which are decorated with paintings of cats, cat dolls and books about cats. On the wall are about 80 photos of various kinds of cats with customers.

"There are no more than four cat cafes in Shanghai. Unlike the others, our cats are all purebreds and will only be exposed to customers after special training," said Huang Fenglin, the cafe's manager.

Cat-themed cafes originated in Taiwan and have been popular in Japan for more than a decade.

The trend soon spread to the Chinese mainland, with cat-themed cafes appearing up in big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

Ning Jing, 30, opened the Ningjing Cat Cafe last May and another one in the city's Putuo district this year.

Unlike Japanese cat cafes that charge by the hour, customers may spend 22 yuan ($3.4) on a coffee and stay for a whole day with the cats.

They can use cat toys to play with them or feed them cat snacks costing 5 yuan.

In a hutong near the Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing, there is a cluster of cat cafes where cats not only roam around, but sometimes take a stroll with customers.

"We didn't really intend to run a cat cafe at first, but our boss had two cats and many customers came specially to see them, so we got two more," said Huo Liang, a waiter at the Muming Caf in Beijing's Dongcheng district.

Pang Jun, 36, said she got to know about cat cafes from the Internet.

"I'm having a lot of fun here, and I have been a big fan of cats since I was a kid," she said.

Huang, the manager of the Ningjing Cat Cafe in Shanghai, said all of its cats had been vaccinated and dewormed, and that compared with non-purebreds, purebred cats are not afraid of strangers, don't scratch and are prettier.

Some of its cats have appeared in advertisements for products including tissue paper and automobiles, while some have won cat shows hosted by Cat Fanciers' Association, the world's biggest registry of purebred cats.

The cafe also holds activities for cat lovers to meet each other and cat beauty contests.

But it's not easy to take care of these cats.

"I have to buy about 20 cat toys a month, which are easily worn out. We clean the cat litter about one or two hours a time, give them massages, clean their ears and eyes, and wash them every one or two months," said Huang.

"The cafe is not to make money, but to provide its customers with a special experience. We mainly make profit from the store on the first floor," he said.

Huang said some of the cats are for sale, with prices ranging from 6,000 yuan to 12,000 yuan.

"People trade cats like goods in China. Sellers and buyers have no connection once they make the deal. But in some foreign countries, sellers would first train buyers how to treat cats and sell different kinds of cats in accordance with the size of their homes," Huang said.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: China Daily

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