Mew, a coffee house meant to be the cat's meowI can't believe how silly my parents are.
For fun, they recently carted me halfway across Seoul to mingle with a bunch of felines at Mew, a new cat cafe in Hongdae.
Don't they realize that cats hate socializing?
I mean, it's great to go to a strange place and discover that its owners let you to climb on their furniture.
But there are cats everywhere at Mew! Running on elevated walkways, nestling in strangers' laps, napping on the cafe's pet scale. Let me tell you, the cuddling and cuteness factors (not to mention the kittens' pedigrees) are a bit much for a jaded mixed breed like me.
Nevertheless, Mew's owners are pretty cool. They've got more toys than I've ever seen, including fur-tipped wands, string-controlled mice and even laser beams to chase. They played with me while -- can you believe it? -- my parents were stroking other people's cats.
While I'm content with a bowl of water, Mew serves more than a dozen hot and chilled teas, from Ceylon, Darjeeling and Earl Grey to apple crumble and cinnamon milk. They've got hot and iced coffees, fresh fruit juices, soft drinks and beers -- and they sell milk by the glass, which is more to my liking. Drinks (7,000 to 9,000 won, or $6-8) come with complimentary cookies and, for me, some all-natural kitty treats.
I've always preferred tuna to tiramisu-, sweet potato- or chocolate mousse cake, and will never understand humans' passion for cheesecake. Nevertheless, Mew offers a huge selection of sweets, all 3,500 won a slice, and looking (and tasting) like they should be served at the sort of place that bars four-legged creatures.
But Mew is for cats. Its walls are laced with interconnecting carpeted catwalks. There are scratching poles standing three meters (10 feet) high. (I thought they only had those in heaven). There are a couple of self-contained jungle gyms with platforms, ramps, tubes and chambers. And, there's John Coltrane on the stereo.
Some regulars scooted along Mew's elevated walkways, past its library, to get to the gym. I stayed with my folks, guarding my carrier.
Which brings up the issue of Mew's resident cats. For orphans -- people without pets -- Mew has a Persian, Gah-eul (Autumn), and a British shorthair, Handel, to cuddle.
Frankly, they're not very good at their jobs. Handel climbed into my cage and claimed it for his own. It took some serious snarling to dislodge him. Gah-eul ignores customers, staying on the jungle gym near the front door. It's a nice piece of real estate. But I chose to sit on a table, something I'm not allowed to do at home.