Moving to the Middle East does not mean you have to give up your dreams of being a crazy cat lady…or man. I’ve known for years that I have the crazy part down but, up until now, I have only had one cat which hardly qualifies me for this role. One cat does not a cat lady make. You must have at least four in my dream world. However, I have neither the time nor the money for this endeavor, so I must look elsewhere to feed my feline needs.
Enter: Cat Cafe. Now, I am aware that this is a thing in other places. I have not been to one before, however, so this is new for me. Gatwa W Gahwa (i.e. Cat Cafe Kuwait) is in an area of Kuwait called Salmiya, inside a mall.
There are two parts to it, one is the cafe part where you can purchase drinks with a cat theme to drink before or after playing with the cats (there is no food in the room with the cats). The other is a living room type area where you get to play with the cats.
In my case, we got one drink free. I had the White Meowcha. Other drink possibilities include Green Kitea and Iced Cataccino. See the full menu below.
One you have finished your beverage, you can go into the room with the cats. They do accept walk-ins, but there are a maximum number of people that can be in the room with the cats, so I recommend reserving a time slot online first. You can go in one hour increments, with your first session being 5KD for the hour ($16.68 USD). Additional time added on is cheaper. You can also buy a monthly pass (which, obvs, I am considering).
Now, your money definitely goes to a worthy cause. All the cats come from shelters here in Kuwait. Kuwait has a complicated relationship with animals as pets. There are a lot of stray animals here. It is not uncommon to see many cats in dumpsters searching for food (breaking my little animal-loving heart) and we have a gang of local dogs that roam Mahboula freely. Part of that is because the concept of having a pet is a more Western thing and part of that is actually the fault of some expats who come here, get animals, decide they can’t care for them or don’t want to go through the process of shipping them back, and release them into the “wild” when they leave. On more than one occasion someone I know has come across dogs that were left chained to nearby apartment buildings when the family moved away. Luckily, those dogs were found by people who were caring enough to either adopt them or get them needed medical care and seek out someone who did want to adopt them.
Kuwait does have animal shelters but, because of the local culture and transient nature of expats here, it can sometime be difficult for animals to be adopted. That is why the Cat Cafe here is so important. It takes these shelter animals (who don’t bite/scratch) and socializes them so they are more comfortable around people. The cafe also helps them to get adopted by those who come in and bond with a particular animal. It also teaches people how to appropriately interact the animal in a way that is safe for them and for the animal.
They also do cat yoga, which my hipster yogi friends would love. Now, I have done cat yoga before in my living room. As in, I have been doing yoga and my cat interferes with said yoga by crawling on top of and over me. Same situation here I would imagine, but it seems more adorable in this setting.
During your regular session, you can feed the animals treats, pet them, play with toys, check out their bios, and even read them books from a library they provide. The room is very well maintained and the staff there knows a lot and is in there with you most of the time.
Some of the cats are super into it and some are more interested in napping. Both acceptable forms of cat behavior. Cats can eat, sleep, and get love at any time they like. These are also my favorite activities, leading me to believe I was a feline in a past life.
Here are some of the cuties:
Overall, the Cat Cafe Kuwait was a really great, relaxing experience and I will definitely be going again. And again. And again.
Check out the video here.