The Jakarta Post
For many Indonesians, the words 'restaurant' and 'cats' will perhaps conjure up a scene where restaurant patrons shoo away hungry stray cats that are waiting patiently for any leftovers to fall to the ground, but for many cat lovers, a cat cafe, where one enjoys food in the company of roaming cats, is just the place they want to be.
Dozens of people were recently seen queuing in front of the Cutie Cats CafÃ© in South Jakarta, and even paid money just to gain entry and play with cats.
Located on Jl. Kemang I, the Cutie Cats Cafe is an integrated cat cafe where cat lovers can eat sweets accompanied by their adorable cats, all of which are pets of the cafÃ© owner. Visitors are also allowed to play with the furry creatures, as the cafe provides various toys.
The cats run around freely in their custom-made playground, while visitors either take pictures of them or pet them.
Owner Lia Mutiara Ramadiani said she had raised cats since she was five, and her love for cats had driven her to open the cafÃ©. The cats in the cafÃ©, she said, were all hers, whether they were rescued, donated or purchased from a pet shop.
'It's [the cafe] not necessarily about money. I love cats and love raising them. Playing with cats is also relaxing and can also relieve stress,' Lia said recently.
Lia said that the cats' playground in the cafe was designed by animal experts for the comfort of the cats, and that the cats were cared for by professional vets and were fed healthy meals.
On weekdays, she said, the cafe would charge Rp 50,000 (US$3.85) for the first hour while on weekends the price was Rp 75,000. Visitors would need to pay Rp 35,000 for every additional hour.
The concept of a cat cafe was first introduced in Taiwan in 1998. The cafes became popular after another was opened in Osaka, Japan, in 2004, proving a sensation with local residents and tourists alike. Since then, dozens of cat cafes in other places around the world have also opened shops, such as in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Munich, Germany; Oakland, US; Ottawa; Penang, Malaysia; Seoul; Singapore; and Vienna.
The Cutie Cats Cafe is home to 15 felines of various breeds, such as the Maine Coon, Scottish Fold, Bengal, Himalayan and Persian. The cats appeared to get along well and even played with each other. Lia said she would add more cats to the cafe later on.
She said only 19 visitors were allowed in the room at one time to not stress the cats. Visitors must also take off their shoes and wear slippers provided by the cafe to keep the surroundings clean. She advised that visitors make a reservation beforehand. Cat lovers also cannot bring their own pet cats to the cafes, in case their cats do not get along with those in the cafe.
'As for food, we only provide sweets. The food is also prepared in a separate room,' Lia said. Cakes, coffees and teas start at around Rp 30,000.
One visitor, Mutiara Antartika, said that although she had a pet cat, as a cat enthusiast she really wanted to visit the cafe.
'As someone who likes cats, the cat cafe is hard to resist. I've read about cat cafes in Japan, Korea, Thailand and Singapore so I've been waiting for a cafe to open in Indonesia,' Mutiara said recently.
Although the place was small, she said, she enjoyed playing with the cats, and said she would definitely pay a second visit when more cats arrived.
Another visitor, Sahira Balqis, brought along her toddlers, who seemed to be having fun playing with the cats.
'My children and I really like cats but I have two toddlers so it's a burden for us to have a cat at home. In this cafe, we can play with cats without having a pet,' she said.
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