Okay, so my visit to the 포 캣 (po cat) cat café happened ages ago – I think it was my second weekend in Busan. But it’s like the ancient Korean proverb* goes: ‘It’s better to blog a long time after the event, than not at all’.
Note: All cat puns in this post are fully intentional.
I have always been a cat lover, but I was feline a bit of animosity towards the species during my first few days in Busan. It’s weird enough waking up in a new place and having that ‘where am I?’ moment, but on my first night alone in my new home I was rudely awoken at around 3am by what I initially thought was a screaming baby. It turned out to be a cat, presumably in heat. I drifted back to sleep, and dreamed that I was being attacked by several cats, digging their claws deeper into my skin whenever I tried to pry them off. The next day I saw them all chilling out on a roof below my apartment building, blissfully unaware of having terrorised my sleep.
Nevertheless, I had heard about cat cafés in Korea before coming here and I was determined to experience one. I presumed they were a way for Korean people to get some cat-isfaction, due to the difficulty of keeping pets in apartment buildings. But my official source on all things Korean (my friend GaYoung Lee) informed me that lots of Koreans manage to keep animals even in high rise apartment blocks, so the cafés are just a fun theme. There are many other themed cafés, for instance a Charlie Brown café in the Pusan National University area of Busan, and one shaped like a Rolleiflex camera in Gyeonggi-do (thanks to my cousin Orla for alerting me to the latter).
There are several cat cafés in Busan and indeed all over Korea, but GaYoung picked 포 캣 after reading some reviews online. We headed there on a Sunday afternoon – GaYoung, Chelsea Amy and I. The first thing we did when we got there was remove our shoes and put on these fabulous slippers which were provided:
Then we ordered our drinks and entered cat paradise. There were scratching posts, climbing structures, and even a separate soft play area. The cats themselves were purr-fectly playful, though it was actually enough that none of them tried to tear my flesh of.
One cat was sitting on a shelf, surveying the area with a grumpy puss on its face. The café’s owner informed us that her negative cat-itude was due to a catty exchange she had had with another feline. Look at those dagger eyes!
We even got to feed the cats from little cups of tuna. The owner suggested putting some on our hands so the cats could lick it off, which I duly did. It was a joy to feel the sandpaper-like texture of a cat’s tongue on my hand, a sensation I have not felt since the passing of Tom, my family’s creatively named tomcat, around five years ago.
If you’re wondering about the hygiene implications of having so many animals in a place serving drinks, this is how it goes down: everyone must use hand sanitiser before going into the cat area. Drinks are served in sealed cups, with straws. There was another round of hand sanitiser on the way out, and we were also provided with the use of a lint roller to get all the cat hairs off.
Overall, I have to say that the 포 캣 café was a very paws-itive experience that I think everyone should try it – I’m not kitten!
If you’re ever in the area and would like to go there yourself, take the subway line 2 to Kyungsung University, take exit 1, turn left, make the next right and walk about half way up the road.
*This is definitely not an ancient Korean proverb.