Abu Dhabi has a new spot that combines UAE residents’ love for cats and coffee. Meow Cafe, which had its soft opening in November, is the first venue of its kind to open in the capital. The well-lit space, located at Al Muneera, is home to 13 furry residents.
The venue is inspired by the cat cafes found in Japan – the interiors even feature a cherry blossom tree – where visitors can enjoy hot and cold beverages and baked treats, from crepe cakes to zaatar croissants.
Meanwhile animal lovers can head to a separate section to play with the cats, many of which sport Japanese-inspired names such as Yuri and Kora. There are different breeds, from Siamese and Persians to British shorthairs.
Scroll through the gallery above for a look at the cat cafe
The entry fee to the cat section is Dh45 for adults and Dh35 for children under 10 for an hour.
There, customers can interact with the fluffy residents that roam freely.
The space features plenty of accessories for the animals, from cat trees to scratching posts, and a glass wall that allows the animals to people-watch.
There’s also a separate area to which the cats can retreat if they don’t feel like socialising with customers.
Meow Cafe started as a passion project, says Mouza Al Mannaei, the operations manager, with all of the cats rescued.
“Some are adopted, some are dumped pets, and some were bought because they were found in bad shape in Al Mina,” Ms Al Mannaei says.
“They stayed with the owner’s family for three years before they were moved to this location.”
The idea for the cafe came when the owner visited Japan and saw the venues there. Her daughter was a huge fan of the animals but they couldn’t go in because young children weren’t allowed.
It sparked the idea for a cat cafe in the UAE that was family-friendly, and didn’t place restrictions on age.
Of course, there are “cat rules” that have to be followed to ensure the children and cats are having a good time.
Children are told not to jump, run or yell at the animals, to be gentle with them at all times, and not to use a flash camera. Children also have to be accompanied by an adult, with a maximum two for each grown-up.
“The staff are also on hand," Ms Al Mannaei says. "They will share the rules with those visiting the cats. If someone breaks the rules more than three times, they will be asked to leave, for the safety of children and the cats."
The rules support the cafe's overall goal – to make it more educational, especially for children.
“We wanted to teach young children the best way to properly interact with cats,” Ms Al Mannaei says.
“That way they can learn the proper way to deal with them, and make sure they don’t accidentally abuse them.
"Cats and other pets are a huge responsibility as well. This way, children got a chance learn about the responsibility that goes into caring for them before getting a pet.”
Unlike some other cat cafes around the world, the cats aren’t up for adoption or sale.
“We love the animals here, and are not looking to give them away,” Ms Al Mannaei says. “They’re part of the family.”
The concept of cat cafes isn't new to the UAE. Dubai's first cat cafe, Ailuromania, opened in 2015.
Dubai residents can also meet some furry friends at Vibrissae, a cafe named after the whiskers of a cat, that opened in Al Safa in 2021.