While most cat owners struggle to get their pet away from their food, the Meow Inn welcomes the furry friends to the feast. Located in the Fujian province in China, the Meow Inn cat café caught the attention of sophomore Rita Chen during her visit to her hometown.
“I feel so happy because obviously I grew up there and it just bring[s] back a lot of memories, ” said Chen.
After seeing the café advertised online, Chen saw an opportunity to live out her dream of having a cat. The idea of offering cat lovers the experience of having a pet, without the commitment, is what led to the world’s first cat café: The Cat Flower Garden. Created in Taiwan in 1998, the café allowed people who did not have the room or resources to take care of cats to still experience the joy and comfort from these creatures. However, the popularity of cat cafés skyrocketed in Japan around 2004, and the trend made its way to China in 2010. Today, around 200 cat cafés have sprung up in cities all across the world, letting aspiring cat owners get their dose of feline fun.
“I really want a cat, but I don’t own a cat. So, that is what made me want to go,” said Chen.
The three story building hosts the cats and food on the first floor, while the other two floors are for storage and the owner’s personal use. The owner takes care of the cats, all of which are up for adoption, making it difficult for people to come out of the café without a new addition to their family.
According to Basepaw’s estimate from a WorldAtlas pet cat ownership report, there are about 52 million stray cats in China. Chinese citizens buying cats for companionship during the pandemic contributed to this overwhelming large number. Even though cats are a symbol of good fortune in China, many people have abandoned their cats due to the cost of care. However, there has been a shift in China from the pet market towards adoption, providing more opportunities for places like the Meow Inn to help cats find homes.
Some people may worry about getting cat hair in their food, but at the Meow Inn, the cats and the coffee and cakes served are stationed in different rooms. But in the cat zone, Chen got to enjoy all the cats roaming around, fostering a special connection with a blue-eyed beauty, making her 7,755 mile trip worthwhile.
“He’s very fat and fluffy,” said Chen.