Whether you’re a cat person, or a dog person, there’s a café for you in Chiang Mai. I go either way, so I tried out both.
I’ve long dreamed of going to a dog or cat café. I pictured myself being adored by affectionate furry critters vying for my attention while sipping coffee and generally feeling pretty special. That’s not quite how it worked out.
There are similarities between the two. Before entering either café you go through a cleansing and education process. Shoes must be removed, and CSI style booties are provided. You then wash your hands and apply sanitizer, then comes the education. Simply, these are the house rules of how to interact with the animals, for example you are not allowed to pick up the cats. In the dog café you mustn’t allow a dog to lick your hand. Also, you are told that you may be urinated on and that this is merely the nature of the dog and should be accepted as a sign of doggie acceptance. Thankfully I wasn’t accepted to this degree.
Both places feel socially awkward. On paper it sounds like a lovely way to spend an hour or so, but in practice, both experiences were odd. I imagined couches, or tables and chairs, but in both places the seating is unfriendly. In the cat café patrons sit on one of the plastic cushions on the floor that line the walls. As I sank into the cushion my bootied feet held no traction on the wooden floor and I worried how this might end when I attempted to get up again. Once I was as comfortable as I could get, the silence hit me. The place was full, but no one spoke. Most were glued to their phones. A few flicked around toys to get some cat attention, a futile exercise. There are 20 cats in Catmosphere, a mix of bought and rescued animals. All are aloof and dismissive. Perhaps this is the nature of cats, but none would be tempted to approach the patrons, not even me and I’m a bona fide cat whisperer.
The dog café offered high set wooden bench to sit on but was a far more social event than the cat experience. No one sat down at the dog café, not on the chairs anyway. Most people sit on the floor so they can interact with the dogs. There is a range of dogs at the café, most of whom are pretty dull. There was a naughty Labrador though who made the visit. He stole someone’s iced coffee off the bench, then sent the staff into panic when he peed on the floor. The place is called Box Box and with good reason, it is just a room with a bunch of dogs in it. There were no toys or beds or access to the outside. My understanding is the business is a doggy day care and the café is a sideline.
I felt ripped off by both businesses. The dog place because I feel they’re getting two bits of the cherry, charging for the day care, then charging 150 BHT per person just to enter the café. The cat café doesn’t have an entry fee, but you do have to buy at least one item from the menu which is overpriced. A soda water which would normally cost 20BHT was 75BHT.
The key word for both these cafes is disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I went, but I won’t be getting a loyalty card.