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Cats have managed to purr their way into one of France’s most coveted social institutions – the café. Cat cafés have become an immensely popular addition to Paris’s café culture, over the past few years. The concept, which originally hails from Taiwan, allows patrons to enjoy their usual cup of tea or coffee with the added bonus of admiring and stroking the fluffy residents.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, “purr therapy” refers to the therapeutic effects resulting from the purring of a cat. When a person strokes or pets it, a cat most often elicits a purr, the vibrations of which fall within a range of about 40-120 Hertz. These low-frequency vibrations have been linked to some pretty impressive health benefits including lowering blood pressure; promoting bone strength; healing muscles, tendons and ligament injuries; and providing stress relief. A recent study even indicated that cat owners have a 40% less risk of a heart attack. These apparent health benefits coupled with the overwhelming fondness humans have for our furry friends has seen purr therapy– and indeed cat cafés– quickly gain momentum.
Where to get your Feline Fix
In 2013, Parisians witnessed the opening of France’s first ever cat café in the Marais (where else?). Le Café des Chats opened its doors on rue Michel Le Comte to a flurry of feline fanatics and has enjoyed what can only be described as inexhaustible popularity ever since. The phenomenal success of Le Café des Chats in the Marais prompted the launch of a second branch on rue Sedaine in the 11th arrondissement.
Le Café des Chats (Marais) is open from Tuesday to Sunday and serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. While these cafés are not new, both branches of Le Café des Chats are still in such high demand that we recommend booking, especially if you are planning a cat-related coffee over the weekend.
Chat Mallows Café is the newest kid on the block opening just last year. Located in the 15th arrondissement on rue des Volontaires, the owners have opted for a more Asian approach to the concept creating a relaxing atmosphere where customers and cats can chill and interact. It is an intimate space with no more than, say, six tables. Those who do manage to nab a seat can enjoy a range of hot and cold drinks and cat-inspired snacks. Expect to pay a little more than usual for a café au lait or a cup of tea but keeping in mind the novel company provided – it is pretty good value.
It is no secret that urban living can be stressful and at times lonely. It is equally well known that pets are thought to provide their owners with relaxing companionship. In urban cities, however, where space is at a premium, city-dwellers are often prohibited from owning a pet. Cat cafés, therefore, may offer the purrfect solution.
Lead photo credit : A cat at Le café des chats. Photo: Sarah Breathnach