A cup of coffee at La Gatoteca costs €4 – not cheap, but then you also have to consider your drink comes with your own cat to stroke for the next half hour or so. The first, and so far only, cat café in the Spanish capital – next door to the Reina Sofía art museum on Argumosa street – opened its doors a year ago, providing an imaginative solution as to how to bring abandoned cats in touch with potential adoptive families.
On EL PAÍS's visit the two-floor space is occupied by 14 felines, who seem to have made themselves at home and, when not curled up asleep, make their way between the tables, perhaps in the hope of persuading one of the customers to take them home.
La Gatoteca owner Eva Aznar says she got the idea from Japan, where there are around 200 cat cafés
La Gatoteca owner Eva Aznar says she got the idea from Japan, where there are around 200 cat cafés. But rather than just offering customers the chance to stroke or pet the animals as these do, La Gatoteca works with ABRIGA, an association that finds home for abandoned cats. Over the last year, Aznar says she has been able to place 24 felines.
The café is getting ready to receive its latest occupant, a female cat found in the internal courtyard of an apartment block. She’s been waiting three months: the café has a waiting list of around 15 animals. Aznar says it’s been a steep learning curve over the course of the last year for the 25 volunteers who work with her. “Initially, we accepted cats from people who could no longer look after their pets, but we found that they were too spoiled, and didn’t fit in.” She says it normally takes around two weeks to find a home for a cat.
The two most recent adoptees were Jack and Penny, who came together, and went to the same home. “We try to make the adoptions as personalized as possible,” says Aznar. Anybody wanting to adopt must first join ABRIGA, which costs €50, and attend a beginner’s course in cat care. “We help animals that have no home, but also cats that already have one. Many owners don’t know how to look after a cat properly,” says Aznar, while two women sit down to have a coffee. Abel, a jet-black male, looks at them and allows himself to be stroked for a few seconds before jumping away to another chair.