A Bucket List Nine Lives Long
You’re on the internet right now, which means you’ve likely waded through a cutesy mire of cat gifs and memes just to get here. The internet loves cats! And rightly so. Just look at this one:
He's a pirate! The problem with internet cats is that you can’t cuddle them, get your hands slashed to ribbons when you try and tickle their bellies, take a million pictures of them in various states of unconsciousness to set as your lock screen background, or swear at them relentlessly when they urinate on your favourite hat.
So we’ve put together a list of places you can travel to do all of the above, and enjoy a bit of a holiday in the process.
Cat Cafes, South Korea
A cat cafe recreates the experience of cat ownership fairly accurately: you can’t sit where you want because cats are there; you can’t get the cats’ attention because they are disdainful of your existence; you can’t eat your food or drink your beverages because they are full of cat hair.
Cat cafes are prevalent all over Asia, and are rapidly spreading to major cities around the globe. We’ve chosen the fine establishments in Seoul, South Korea, because they usually focus on pedigree cats, granting you the chance to be soundly ignored by Maine Coons, Russian Blues, and Birmans alike. Bargain.
Cat Island, Japan
Life doesn’t often enough imitate a Haruki Murakami novel, but Aoshima Island in the author’s homeland does it in unabashed style. It’s a small fishing community where feral cats outnumber humans six to one, making abandoned houses their own, congregating in packs on the streets, and making the internet lose its collective mind. You won’t be surprised to hear it’s recently become a popular tourist destination.
Usually we’d be worried that this many cats in one place would see them plot to take over the world, but the frequency of unbridled cat orgies should keep them occupied for a few decades yet.
Cat Cabinet, Amsterdam
We all know at least one crazy cat person, their homes filled with felines, tacky memorabilia, and a smell that won’t leave your clothes for weeks. The KattenKabinet is what happens when this obsession goes unchecked: paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other miscellaneous works of art dedicated to these gods among pets, all crammed into one glorious space.
Of course, cats roam the premises as a reminder that they are the only true works of art.
It’s not unusual to find far flung lands teeming with street cats, wearing leather jackets and challenging tourists to high stakes games of Liar’s Dice. Their revered status in Islam makes their presence more common in Muslim countries. Visit Istanbul and you’ll likely find cats perched on windowsills along the streets, crouched under cars and dining tables, and even sprawled inside mosques.
The locals look after them well, providing food and shelter, so the cats are usually in better condition than you’d expect. As far as the cats are concerned, this is exactly how they deserve to be treated everywhere and at all times.
Super Lucky Cat Temple, Tokyo
Known in Japan as ‘Maneki Neko’ (‘beckoning cat’) statues, you’ve probably seen these cute automatons beckoning you into shops and restaurants. Well, Gotokuji Temple really wants you to go inside.
The tradition of placing the cats here dates back to a story of a passing lord being beckoned inside by the temple’s cat to shelter from a violent storm. When the cat died, the lord had it enshrined as a god called Shoboyo Kannon. Visitors now offer the Maneki Neko statues in the hope that the cat god might show them favour. Clearly they’ve never been faced with the indifference of a real cat.
The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt
Ancient Egypt is the official prequel to the internet, if their reverence of cats is anything to go by. The prominence of cats in Egyptian tradition predates memes by millennia.
Most famous is the Great Sphinx of Giza, half-lion-half-human and, in true cat fashion, impossible to stare down and hogging the best seat in the area for a view of the pyramids. Thousands of years might pass, but some things never change.
This city loves cats so much that it’s (probably) named after them – the Malay for cat being ‘kucing’ – and has taken the crazy cat person aesthetic city-wide.
Hundreds of cat statues and other grand tributes are dotted around the city for visitors to seek out. The Kuching Cat Museum displays over 4000 moggy artefacts shipped from all over the world. Unfortunately the cats are probably more interested in playing with the packing containers.
Moscow Cats Theatre, Russia
Cats are useless, people say. You can’t train them to do anything helpful like assist blind people or open beers with their teeth, and all they do is lie there. That’s what anti-cat propaganda will have you believe.
The Moscow Cats Theatre is here to disprove it all. It consists of 200 feline performers, working alongside more traditional circus folk to perform a breathtaking show that includes them walking on narrow bridges, balancing on precarious things, and... okay, by the sounds of it the cats just sort of hang around and be cats. Luckily we’re down with that.
Stubbs the cat is mayor of his own town, and therefore as powerful as every cat believes they deserve to be. It’s frankly baffling that more towns haven’t followed suit (London, we’re looking at you). Stubbs was elected 16 years ago as a spritely kitten and, at time of writing, is still ruling with an iron paw.
In those 16 years he has survived more assassination attempts than the most hated of dictators: he’s been shot, fallen into a restaurant fryer, jumped from the back of a moving truck, and been mauled by a dog, eternal dissidents in any kitty regime. You might want to visit him soon, as he probably hasn’t got too many lives left to spare.