Cat cafes have become quite popular over the past few years. However, just in case you haven't heard of this phenomenon yet, then this little explanation of the recently opened Kissakahvila (Cat Cafe) in Helsinki should help.
There are already many cat cafes around the world and finally Finland has jumped on the bandwagon too. The idea for this particular cafe came to owner Pasi after he became aware of a certain, now quite famous, English street cat called Bob and had seen photos of other cat cafes online. With the help of some crowd-funding and hard work the dream finally became a reality in July 2015.
I first visited the cafe just over a month after it opened, I was initially a little worried about what it would be like as a friend of mine had visited one abroad and had mixed reviews about her experience.
I needn't have worried at all though, Helsinki's Kissakahvila (Cat Cafe) is extremely well thought out, safe, clean and friendly. On top of this, some of the resident cats are all actually re-homed domestic cats which had become homeless for unknown reasons.
The safety and well-being of the resident cats is of utmost priority at Kissakahvila which instantly makes me happy.
There are also rules which need to be followed in order to maintain the wellbeing and safety of the animals. These are displayed on the front of the food menu and are yet another reason why I felt so comfortable at the cafe.
These rules ensure that the cats get to have a break from visitors, they are not to be disturbed when sleeping or eating and they are not to be fed any leftovers from visitors' plates.
You'll need to book an appointment for a 1,5 hour visit* which can be booked via the Kissakahvila website. When you arrive at the front door of the cafe you'll need to wait for the host to let you into the building in order to make sure that the cats do not run off into the street or the close by busy road.
If the booking slots on the website are all gone then it is still worth going to the cafe anyway to see if they have any walk-in slots available.
Once inside you'll take off your shoes and be shown to a table where you'll be able to enjoy some food whilst you play with the resident cats. There are various toys available and even a little corner seating area on the floor where you might be lucky enough to end up with a sleepy kitten on your lap.
As you can probably imagine, cats are extremely independent and unpredictable so it is not guaranteed that they will come and play with you specifically or that they won't have invented their own game entirely which they've decide to play on one of the little walkways built at ceiling height to allow the cats peace and quiet during the day.
Don't fret if the cats don't make a beeline for your table, it is perfectly acceptable to move from your seat and closer to the cats in order to play with them. During my visit many of the other visitors moved around if a cat was being particularly friendly at a different table this was also a nice way to get chatting to people and made the experience much more enjoyable.
*There is a compulsory 5€ 'cat care cost' per person in exchange for your 1hr 30min visit. This goes towards maintaining the lives of the resident cats. There is also a minimum age limit of 7 years for the safety of the cats and the children.