VIENNA – Austria’s first cat cafe opened Friday in Vienna, which boasts more than 300 years of cafe culture, with the Japanese owner and five cats welcoming customers who flocked to the shop.
Customers, many of them young women, filled the 50-seat cafe called Neko (cat), where they stroked the cats and took pictures of them as the animals walked around or took a nap.
“I wanted to open a cafe that has a Japanese touch and which does not exist in Austria,” said Takako Ishimitsu, the 47-year-old owner from Gifu Prefecture who has lived in the Austrian capital for more than 20 years.
After going through negotiations with officials at Vienna City Hall who were concerned about hygiene issues, Ishimitsu was finally able to open the cafe with five cats she got from a local humane society.
“There are cat lovers in any country. I think (the cat cafe) will be well-received in Vienna as well,” she said.
Cat cafes, which are said to have originated in Taiwan, have become popular in Japan in recent years.