Cats of about 15-weeks-old miaow around the cafeteria where you can still smell the fresh paint from the wooden furniture on Monday morning.
There are two days remaining to the opening ceremony of the first cat café in Helsinki but everything seems to be in place, along with the five kittens (if only for two seconds): Nestori, Ville, Kalle, Helmiina, Tyylilyyli and one adult, a stray cat called Pete. They are all permanent residents of the cafeteria.
The concept of a cat café originates from Asia, where the first one was established in Taiwan in 1998. However, Finns are reputable cat owners; about one million people own a cat. It was just a matter of time when someone with a twinkle in one’s eye would grab the opportunity and bring the concept to Helsinki.
The man in question is Pasi Nikkinen, 43, a man with a long history in entrepreneurship, selling, and, yes, cats.
A year ago his cat, Max, a curious one, decided to explore the highest pine at the Kumpula rocks. After spending two nights in the tree, Pasi decided to start a rescue operation. With an aid of a stone, clothesline and a basket, he managed to throw the stone around a branch in the heights of 10 metres and start towing the basket full of food in front of the nose of the hungry Max. Max couldn’t resist the temptation, and Pasi lowered his precious fur-ball back to the ground.
The moment grabbed the attention in Facebook and after hearing about the boom of cat cafés around the world, Pasi, for the love of cats, decided to establish one in Helsinki.
After getting a few denials of the open spaces here and there, Pasi, after circling one night around Helsinki centre, found the perfect spot at Fredrikinkatu 55 – a stone’s throw away from Kamppi shopping centre.
In May, he signed the lease, started a crowdsourcing campaign and began the renovation.
After gathering about 4,500 euros with the crowdsourcing and after investing about 30,000 euros from his own pocket, the cat café is ready to open on Wednesday.
The café hosts about 25 customers at once and according to Pasi, people have made plenty of reservations for the following weeks.
“However, there are about five seats always available for walk-in customers,” he says.
The café among others serves fresh coffee and carrot cake. I tasted both, fresh and sweet, while Kalle the kitten was rubbing against my legs. I saw Kalle jumping on tables after smelling the fresh ciabatta, too. But that’s a no-no as the waitress hushed him down.
He still has a few days to learn the rules, but I am sure he will get it.
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[divider]Helsinki Cat Café[/divider]
Helsinki Cat Café opens on Wednesday July 15 at Fredrikinkatu 55, Helsinki. Every customer is entitled to pay a 5€ care fee. This gives the patron 1,5h to enjoy the company of the cats. Click here to make a reservation.