Located within the Central Business District and facing the Singapore River, Boat Quay is one of Singapore’s liveliest districts; a picturesque site of watering holes, bistros and other quick bites for the ravenous throngs of office workers and tourists alike.
But amongst the abundance of food choices, one particular cafe really stands out. Hiding in the second storey of a shophouse and housing more than 10 cats, Cat cafe Neko no Niwa (Japanese for ‘Cat Garden’) is Singapore’s first cat cafe.
Upon entry, you’ll have to pay $12 for the first hour and $5 for the subsequent half-hour. Should you decide to stay for more than an hour and a half, we recommend going for the 3-hour Special Package ($24).
For those who are keen to stay for more than three hours, consider getting the Whole Day Pass ($32). Students who are go for either of the two packages will receive a complimentary Hot Chocolate ($3.50).
Unfortunately, Neko no Niwa does not allow children under the age of seven to enter, and those over the age of seven but under the age of 14 will require adult supervision.
Upon arrival, we deposited our shoes at the racks provided and were instructed to wash and sanitise our hands before being granted access to the cats.
The play space is somewhat small and only allows a maximum of 20 pax to enter at a time. It exudes a sense of calm, with whitewashed walls, wooden floorboards and simple furniture dotted around.
Neko no Niwa houses 13 resident cats, and it wasn’t difficult to spot them idling about. We later found out that they had all been rescued and given this new home.
As it turns out, the owners (Sam and Sue) are advocates of cat adoption. With a firm belief that all cats –including the stray and non-pedigreed ones – should be loved, Sam and Sue seek to dispel certain myths befouling the furry felines and aim to impart the joy and knowledge of cat ownership.
Here at Neko no Niwa, you get to play and groom the cats, or bask in the therapeutic ambience of the furry felines.
Behind Neko no Niwa’s inviting atmosphere are several house rules that ensure the cats’ well-being and participants’ safety.
You are not allowed to pull a cat’s tail or other body parts. You are also advised not to wake a sleeping cat, or attempt to hold and carry a cat (unless it jumps onto your lap). You should refrain from speaking too loudly and while you’re allowed to take photos, you have to do so without flash.
Please do also take note that as curious as these felines may be, you should never allow the cats to consume any food that you’ve ordered.
When we were there, several of the resident cats were curled up in their tents and sleeping away. We recommend coming in the morning or later in the evening when the cats are more active.
Here’s Little Miss Muffet, the Maine Coon/Ragdoll, posing for us. She likes to play with a string toy when shes’s not watching the world go by in her quaint little corner.
To date, Miley, the Diluted Tortoiseshell (or a possible Chinchilla Persian), still flinches at a raised human hand, indicating a possibly abusive past. Just give her some time to open up!
Emma‘s piercing blue eyes are straight-up gorgeous. She is also a special feline belonging to the rare 15% of white cats with blue eyes that are not deaf. You truly do learn something new everyday.
Demi, the possible British Shorthair, enjoys snoozing by the window ledge. I can’t blame her, I would enjoy the sun’s warmth as well.
Kai Kai, the ginger cat, is an energetic attention seeker. He willingly approaches any strangers for a cuddle, but that’s only going to happen if you can find him awake.
Brown Monkey, the Sealpoint cat, is the most active cat of them all. Known to be a really good jumper, he once toppled an entire bookshelf when chasing after a fellow companion after opening hours.
Imagine the state that greeted the staff the following morning.
There are plenty of toys that you can use to play with the cats, such as catnip, toy rubber balls and string toys.
Expect to bowl over with laughter as you witness the intriguing (and contorted) facial expressions of the adorable kitties as they get baited.
With the help of the friendly staff, we also managed to get Kai Kai to rest on my lap. Unfortunately, he bolted off to his fellow counterparts within a minute.
The staff also told us that a common misconception about cats is that they are often seen as colder creatures as compared to their canine counterparts. Newcomers should never compare a visit to a cat cafe to that of a dog cafe.
Cats have different personalities and take a longer time opening up to humans.
It was our first time checking out Neko no Niwa and it will definitely be one that we will remember for a long time. I miss these cuties already!
If you love cats, you’re really going to enjoy this experience. Yes, we’re looking at all you crazy cat ladies out there.
Prices: $12 (first hour), $5 (next 1/2 hour), $24 (3-hour special), $32 (Whole Day Pass)
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