Have a cuppa with cats on Christmas

Have a cuppa with cats on Christmas
Neko no Niwa, Singapore's first cat cafe.

SINGAPORE - Cat lovers looking for a feline to cuddle can visit Singapore's first cat cafe, which opens its doors to the public tomorrow on Christmas Day.

Called Neko no Niwa, which is Japanese for "Cat Garden", it is located at 54A Boat Quay and houses 13 rescued and adopted cats.

Its two owners were inspired by similar establishments in other countries, particularly Japan, which even has penguin bars as well as bird and owl cafes, where patrons can have a drink while interacting with the animals.

"I've always wondered why there are no cat cafes in Singapore. It can be a very therapeutic place," said co-owner Tan Sue Lynn, 36, who has four cats of her own.

Customers at Neko no Niwa are required to take off their shoes and wash their hands as a hygiene measure before entering the cats' play area.

As the cats eat and play in that area, everything is designed for them - even the shelves lined with books are structured specially for cats to jump on and play.

A tunnel at a corner of the room leads to the cats' litter box. The cats sleep in the cafe when it is shut at night.

Customers are not allowed to take their own cats into the cafe. This is to prevent cat fights, as cats generally do not take well to other cats initially, said Ms Tan.

It took the owners a month just to get the 13 house cats integrated into the cafe environment and get used to the presence of each other.

The cafe owners' decision to house only rescued and adopted cats was to encourage adoption, instead of buying, said Ms Tan.

Fees for interacting with the cafe cats start at $12 for the first hour, and $5 for subsequent half-hour blocks.

The cafe will host a maximum of 25 customers at any one time, to ensure "that the cats aren't overwhelmed", said Ms Tan.

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