Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cafe Gio Cat, Seoul, Korea: Smitten with Kittens

Here I sit in one cafe to write about another. However, I'm currently sitting in a relatively typical, albeit wonderful, cafe that not surprisingly just serves coffee and some delectable food. The cafe that I'm writing about does indeed serve coffee, but they also have an aspect that makes them undoubtedly original, and some would say unusual. Although it should be mentioned that within the bounds of Seoul there are a number of these cafes. Perhaps they are only original if you come from North America, where such a cafe would violate innumerable health and safety laws. Alright, enough of the suspense...I'm referring to a phenomenon known as the "cat cafe." On the whole, it seems like such an Asian concept to me. There are actually a number of pet cafes (dogs, fish, birds etc.) throughout Seoul that I can only imagine maintain their popularity because of the housing situation in this city. I theorize, perchance incorrectly, that these cafes maintain popularity because a large percentage of Seoulites live in relatively small apartments where a pet may not be the most convenient, or even allowed. Bri and I chose to visit one of the most famous cat cafes is Seoul known as "Cafe Gio Cat," which is located in the trendy, burgeoning Hongdae area.
Cafe Gio Cat offers a unique experience for cat lovers to indulge is their fondness for their furry friends. Rather humorously, Cafe Gio Cat is even listed on the official Korean tourism website ( as having "over ten breeds of cats (Russian Blue, Persian, Scottish Fold, and more) that have free range of the café." Also, in a very insightful sentence on the site they note that "Café Gio Cat is a café for cats" (I never would have guessed!). All jokes aside, it's a fun place to get a warm beverage, and have a little fun in the meantime. I'm pretty sure their target audience is ditsy teenage Korean girls, but that's certainly never stopped me before (I went out for Halloween in Seoul as Hello Kitty). It only costs around 8,000 won and comes with a quality beverage of your choice. I chose to get a caramel machiatto because they would write "CM" on the lid, which just so happens to be the initials of yours truly. What can I say? Cat cafes have a way of putting me in a foolhardy mood. Alas, it's time for me to share a few lovely photos I snapped of some endearing felines.

These were just a few stars of the cat cafe show known as Cafe Gio Cat. And these stars certainly get as much, if not more, attention than your average celebrity. As one might suspect, there were cats absolutely everywhere. It was incredibly amusing to see cats asleep on tables, rolling on the floor, in the rafters, or on any number of the playful apparatuses they had set up for the cats. I can honestly say that I've never seen so many cats in my entire life, and the subtle smell of cat urine solidified that. It was a perfect way to live a day in the shoes of a crazy old cat lady.

The owner of the shop was a fellow that I dubbed "the cat whisperer" for his seemingly boundless command of his cat armada. At one point, he even had one of that cats hop up on the table and give him a high-five. Don't believe me?
I became fond of two cats in particular during my visit at Cafe Gio Cat. The first cat wasn't actually out to play, but was merely watching from the sidelines in his little glass enclosure. Actually, it's debatable to whether he was "watching" or sleeping with his eyes open. Either way, he was beyond adorable because he almost looked too small to form a thought. As for the second cat, I was fond of him for the sole reason that I believe he looks exactly like my friend Grant. Both Grant and Bri have tried to dispute this fact, but it is indisputable because it is unquestionably Grant in cat form. Without further adieu, here they are:
I appreciated the fact that it wasn't some sort of cat "zoo." In fact it seemed more like a cat paradise to me. I imagine cats love nothing more than constant attention, food, and a legion of other cats for amusement and companionship. The layout was also great for interacting with the cats, but also enjoying a cup of hot java at the same time. The highlight of the whole experience is when one of the employees brought out a package of dried fish. All of a sudden, desperate meows sprouted up all throughout the cafe and the cats hurried to her like rats to the pied piper. It was hilarious to see that many cats in one place with the same goal in mind. They eventually started trying to climb of her legs to get to the fish with a sort jovial panic about them.
Seoul's a city that consistently offers endless adventures for those who choose to take it. After six months here, I still find myself infatuated with the innumerable opportunities presented in Seoul, even if that means visiting a cat cafe. Just this weekend, Bri and I were able to explore two palace grounds in Gwanghamun that we hadn't seen yet, go to restaurants we hadn't been to before in Itaewon and Insadong, a different bar in Hongdae, a new shop in Myeongdong, while meeting up with two friends from Canada along the way. As it turns out, keeping yourself this busy makes your wallet a little lighter, but I have my whole life to make money, and for now I'm working on, as my dad would say, "making memories".


  1. Fantastic. Keep them coming.

  2. Thanks a lot. I'll do my best to keep them interesting, and hopefully frequent as well.