The face in the shop window is frowning and appears, in fact, anything but friendly. But it does not deter passers-by. Surprisingly, just the opposite seems to be happening. People strolling along Silom Road stop in front of this particular shop, smile, and often take pictures. Some even decide to enter.
The “unfriendly” face in the window comes courtesy of a huge Persian-style cat, which is turning the window into an attraction on its own. Meanwhile, in the background, people are sipping on teas or coffees, surrounded by pictures of cats.
Welcome then, to Cat Up Cafe in Silom, located just near the street level entrance to the BTS Saladaeng station. This gimmicky coffee shop is the first of its kind in the Silom area, but it is anything but new in Bangkok as a whole. In fact, it joins a dozen other city coffee houses where cats tend to compete with guests for attention, and sometimes for food. The Sukhumvit/Thonglor area already has three places dedicated to feline fans, and coffee corners shared with cats can also be found in Ratchathewi and along Ladprao.
So why a ‘Cat Coffee Shop’ you ask? Well, the trend is not Thai but Japanese, and it seems that the presence of cats can act as an anti-stress element—especially when the cats purr with happiness. Alongside the cats, most of the shops serve traditional coffee and cakes, but eventually most end up selling cat accessories as well.
There are, however, some problems running such an establishment. In the UK, hygiene authorities have asked a few cat coffee places to close. In other instances, children are not allowed in these cafés as they generally scare the animals, which can make the cats turn aggressive. And if you were thinking of bringing your favourite pet with you and introducing it to a few new friends, just forget about it. Only house cats are allowed in most cases!
But if you are a true lover of cats and do not fear having a few cat hairs end up in your cake or coffee, cat coffee shops are the perfect places to lounge. Little surprise that the slogan of Cat Up Café in Silom reads: “What you need is cat and coffee!”
Cat Up Café
22 Silom Rd.
Tel: 02 108 4993
Open daily: noon–9pm