What pairs well with a good cup of coffee? Cute, cuddly, and playful cats sitting on your lap, of course. Unfortunately, you can’t experience this in a café in Iceland. Cat-themed cafés are just not a thing here.
Starting mainly as a tourist attraction in Taiwan, cat cafés have now been implemented in numerous cities around the world. Japan alone currently boasts a total of 79 cat cafés (and counting). Depending on the type of café, you can even adopt a little feline friend you’ve grown to love over your cup of joe.
In the United Kingdom, cat cafés have stirred up controversy. Many organisations debate that cafés aren’t suitable spaces for cats, and that they need more room and freedom. The International Cat Care organization claims that these are tricky spaces to work with, but that it’s not impossible to do so ethically.
Iceland has been known to be particularly stubborn when it comes to furry companions—it was forbidden to have dogs as pets until the 1970s. Given that cat cafés are still a strange and unusual concept in the western world, we can allow the government here a little leeway with accepting such a new idea. Until very recently, politician Björt Ólafsdótti put forward a bill to legalize animals in dining establishments. At least now there is an honest effort being put forward to get cat cafés up and running.
Considering the amount of cats roaming around Reykjavík, you’d think someone would want to open the first cat café here. One could argue that grabbing a cup of coffee and strolling the streets in search of feline company can suffice—but let’s be honest, it’s just not the same. Cat cafés are designed for cats to do what they do best—lounge and snooze in the background. You come in for the coffee, but stay for the cats.