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At a Rio cafe, cats and coffee combine for a cause

Cat cafés were first popularized in Asia, where they originated in Taiwan in 1998.

Woman at cat cafeA woman playing with a cat at the Rio cat café. (Photo: REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto)

At the Gato Café in downtown Rio de Janeiro, coffee and tea are served with whiskers and a purr.

In its pink-walled interior, customers can purchase lattes dusted with cat silhouettes and accompanied by paw-shaped biscuits while cats lounge lazily in an adjacent room.

Cat cafés were first popularized in Asia, where they originated in Taiwan in 1998. In addition to offering feline company, Gato Café, which opened last July, simultaneously functions as an adoption site for abandoned cats rescued by an organization called Bigodes do Bunker (Bunker Whiskers).

Coffee at cat cafe Coffe with cat art at Gato Cafe. (Photo: REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto)

In 2019, there were over 78 million pet cats and dogs in Brazil, according to the Brazilian Pet Institute. As owners passed away and families were thrown into disarray during the coronavirus pandemic, many animals were abandoned or left to fend for themselves.

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“There are more than 10 million cats without a home in Brazil, and I think that the financial difficulties wrought by the pandemic have unfortunately increased this number,” said founder Giovanna Molinaro, who was inspired to create the café after a trip to Japan in 2018.

Cat in Gato cafe. A cat sitting in Gato Café, a cat café in Rio. (Photo: REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto)

“There are other cat cafés in the world, but here we are focused on the adoption and well-being of our cats,” she added.

Clarissa Haiut said she was having the time of her life as she stroked a tabby with white patches.

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“I’m in paradise with all of these cats. I’m in love with them! It feels like I’m living in a dream full of kittens.”

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First published on: 13-07-2021 at 10:30:46 pm
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