Coffee and tea are served with whiskers and a purr at the Gato Cafe in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Customers can have lattes powdered with cat outlines and served with paw-shaped biscuits in the pink-walled décor, while cats snooze in an adjacent room.
Cat cafes first gained popularity in Asia, with the first one opening in Taiwan in 1998. Gato Cafe, which first opened its doors in July, also serves as an adoption centre for abandoned cats rescued by the Bigodes do Bunker organisation (Bunker Whiskers).
According to the Brazilian Pet Institute, approximately 78 million pet cats and dogs were in Brazil in 2019. Many animals were abandoned or left to fend for themselves during the coronavirus epidemic as owners died and families were thrown into disarray.
“In Brazil, there are over 10 million cats without a home, and I believe that the pandemic’s financial struggles have tragically exacerbated this number,” said Giovanna Molinaro. She was inspired to open the cafe following a trip to Japan in 2018.
“There are other cat cafes across the world,” she noted, “but here we are focusing on adoption and the well-being of our cats.” “I’m in paradise with all of these cats. I’m in love with them! It feels like I’m living in a dream full of kittens.”