I studied abroad in Japan several times in my youth, but I missed out on one key Japanese phenomenon: Cat cafes.
A cat cafe is a cafe for humans that is crawling with cats. Dozens of them. I think it was (and perhaps still is) popular in Japan because people often aren’t allowed to have cats in their apartments, but they still want to spend time with felines.
Like all great Japanese things, cat cafes eventually emigrated to the US. Last year, one such cafe in St. Louis, Mauhaus (great name), sought funding on Kickstarter, and I chipped in a few dollars.
Tonight I visited Mauhaus for the first time. When you walk in, you’re greeted with a hold harmless form with a long list of rules about the cats. Don’t pick up the cats. Don’t feed the cats food. Don’t bring your own cats. And so on.
You order food if you want, then you enter an airlock-style gate system (don’t open the second door until you’ve closed the first). Then you basically walk into cat heaven:
At first glance, it may appear that there are no actual cats at Mauhaus, but they’re there. They’re in laps, on coats, near hot-air vents, and crawling through tunnels. Some play, others sleep. And they seemed to take a lot of trips down to the basement where the litter boxes are kept.
I intended to eat dinner at Mauhaus, but I probably wouldn’t do that again, as the fun part of Mauhaus is playing with the cats, which you can’t really do if you’re eating. The food was pretty good, though.
I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of college-age kids at Mauhaus, which makes sense, as it’s close to Webster University. This makes for a brilliant location, as college kids can’t have pets in their dorms, so it’s a nice outlet for cat lovers.
It’s also a very clever concept for cat adoptions. It provides a low-pressure environment for people to hang out with cats and see their personalities. Most of the cats at Mauhaus are available for adoption.
My final impression of Mauhaus, though, is that it’s not nearly as intriguing for those of us who have cats at home. If I want to hang out with cats, I can go find Biddy lurking near the food bowl or locate Walter on the bed. But I’m glad I tried out Mauhaus.
Have you ever visited a cat cafe?