Deeper Convo About Cat Cafe: Neko No Niwa

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Last weekend I got to visit Neko No Niwa in Boat Quay, Singapore.
I came not expecting anything, since I've never been in a cat cafe before. We were there by around 1430, and the lovely lady told us "Most of the cats are sleeping, is that okay with you?" and then I asked her when do they usually wake up, she said around 2030... so we reserved for 2030! We paid 17 SGD for 1,5 hour with the cats. It's not a problem since we stayed really nearby, and I wanted to get the whole experience so I decided to just come back at night.

The night came and we finally entered the cafe! Anyone who knows me can testify that I'm a massive cat lady, so to say that I was excited is an understatement. This is what it looks like from the back end of the cafe. Towers of scratching post, fresh water in every corner, everything is very higienic, zero funny smell inside.

Before we came inside, we were briefed about the rules of the cafe, we're not allowed to carry the cat (but it's okay if they jumped onto our lap), we shouldn't wake a sleeping cat, no pulling tails, no flash, and we should speak softly so there wouldn't be loud or sudden noises. They adapted these rules from Japanese cat cafes, where it's quiet and 'zen'-like. We were also asked to wash our hands and take off our shoes before entering the room. Everyone seemed to comply to the rules. It was lovely!

There were 13 cats, all were rescued, this makes the first thing I love about Neko No Niwa. Instead of just buying different purebred cats 'to attract more visitors', they do it differently. They are supporters of 'Adopt, don't buy'. Based on this one thing, I could really see that Sam and Sue (the owners of the cafe) genuinely love cats, and that they opened this cafe based on that love, I respect that so much.

I was lucky enough Sam and Sue were there during my visit. Sam was inside the cats room area, to look after the cats. I got to talk a lot with Sam and learned so much from him. I first asked him if these cats were abused in their past lives, and he told me Miley might have been abused in her past life.

Hello people, meet Miley. Look at her gorgeous mane. When I first approached Miley, before asking Sam, I realized that you need to be very, very gentle with her. I wondered myself if she had a rough life, apparently Sam thought so too. We have to show Miley that not all humans are the same. Miley is lucky Sam found her... There are a lot of cats that never get help and this breaks my heart. Miley is now safe and sound, she never has to be scared again. I can't quite describe what Miley is like around humans, it's not that she fears us, but there is something. If you visit the cafe, you will know what I'm talking about. I really could not imagine how could anyone hurt such a beautiful being. After a few minutes of petting her, she gave me this comfort look in her eye and I could see she did not hate me! Yay! :P

And then there's Baloo (the black one) and Emma. I'm going to talk about Baloo here. Sam told me that "Baloo is a very proud cat" and I could see that! He's like the boss of the house! Haha. Baloo does not like to be disturbed, we have to pay attention before approaching him, for example, if he was going to have a drink and we interrupt him, then he wouldn't drink, and that's not very nice of us is it? :) You have to 'introduce' yourself before petting him by looking him in the eye, after he looks back and 'knows' you, then you can pet him. Of course you can just pet him without doing these things first, but remember, Baloo is a living being, we have to respect him!

And this is Jia Jia. She was very playful when she met us. She showed the very curious side of her and she got into my backpack!

Instagram link here

I spent a lot of time talking with Sam and learning from him instead of playing with the cats. A lot of them were very, very playful. Some of them ran and jumped around so much! It's fun even just to watch. I learned a lot about compassion and patience from him, these were the things I definitely carried home with me. He was also very loving and gentle with the cats. Neko No Niwa carries a very important message, read more about them here. It's amazing to me that this place came from their love of this amazing creature.

Sam and Sue promised the cats that they would never be hungry, that they would be loved, and they would always have a home. From my experience, I have learned that the cats show very distinct personalities because Sam and Sue respect each of them as individual, with needs, feelings, and preferences. Sam and Sue celebrate their individuality. What's more important is that, if we respect and love them, it's guaranteed that they'll love you back. Cats are incredibly loving animals.

With this, we have to remember that when we walk into a cat cafe, we deal with living beings, and we have to respect them. They're not there to 'entertain' us, they're not props. If they don't seem to enjoy being petted and walk away from you, respect them, it's their right. Just enjoy being in the same room as them and the energy they give you. Cats are magical, you don't need to hold/cuddle them to know that they are! Visiting Neko No Niwa was a very valuable experience. They are kind hearted, genuine people and I'm definitely coming back!

Support them through their journey! They still have a long way to go :)

Cat Cafe: Neko No Niwa
54A Boat Quay (Level 2)

Much love,

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