Specially-themed cafes have rapidly gained popularity in recent years. Among these new-age coffee-house phenomenons has been the rise of the cat cafe. I’ve heard about many such cafes, but only recently visited one for the first time. I wasn’t disappointed; the Cat Up Cafe certainly offers a unique, entertaining and relaxing experience.
Most travelers to Bangkok aren’t particularly interested in hanging out with a bunch of cats. However, there’s no shortage of travelers and expats frequenting the surrounding Silom area at all hours. Why not stop by for a visit?
The Cat Up Cafe is conveniently located literally right beside the steps of the Sala Daeng BTS Skytrain station. It’s also just a short walk (less than 100 meters) from the Si Lom MRT subway station. Few sites in Bangkok are so easily accessible via both the BTS and MRT systems, let alone so close to the stations themselves. There are numerous bus stops nearby, leading along both the famous Silom and Sukhumvit Roads. Tuk-tuks and taxis can drop you off right at the doors. Indeed, the cafe is one of the most easily reachable attractions in the city.
Address: 197/8 ถนน สาธุประดิษฐ์ Chong Nonsi, Yan Nawa, Krung Thep (Bangkok) Maha Nakhon
- Surrounding Area
Bangkok is a huge, sprawling city, with tourist attractions spread out all over the place. Some sites are difficult to reach and not in the proximity of others. However, the Cat Up Cafe sits in an area of Bangkok which is full of attractions. Just within short walking distance of the cafe is Lumphini Park (one of Bangkok’s largest and most scenic parks), the infamous Patpong Road (where you can find the dirty ping-pong shows), the newly-completed MahaNakhon Tower (the tallest tower in Thailand), the famous snake show center, countless modern shopping centers and restaurants, and many more notable places of interest. Tourists can meander around the area for the entire day, and stop in the cafe for a break between attractions.
Enough about the surrounding area, though… what about the actual cafe??
Let’s go inside and see what all the fuss is about, shall we?
- Display Case
This is what caught our interest as we were walking by, and aroused our curiosity enough to lead us inside. In the glass storefront window sits an incredibly cuddly-looking cat, who’s lounging inside a large cat obstacle course. Although the cat seems more interested in sleeping than romping through the obstacles, the scene is a nice welcome to what’s inside.
The Cat Up Cafe has what you’d expect from a cafe; a wide variety of hot and cold drinks; coffees, teas, and fresh fruit shakes. Also served are delicious dessert dishes; cakes and pies, waffles, and of course the famous Thai dessert cow neow ma muang (mango sticky rice). There are a few full meals offered as well. Although they don’t look so great, it’s nice to have that option available.
It wouldn’t be that surprising if a cafe full of cats wasn’t the nicest smelling place in the world. However, the cat cafe is kept remarkably spotless and odor-free. Several cat caretakers are up in the cat room at all times, on standby to immediately clean up any accidents which may occur. There’s a sanitary hand-washing station before entering and leaving the cat room, and the bathrooms are modern and well-maintained.
Step inside the Cat-Up Cafe, and you’ll be rewarded with a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. The ground floor has a spacious feel, with high ceilings and hardwood floors. Simple wooden tables, bars, and chairs. Bright colors and cheerful, cat-themed murals on the walls. The decor seems to fit together and complement itself nicely. A wall made up entirely of windows in the upstairs cat room overlooks the dining hall below. The cafe isn’t enormous, but you’ll never feel cramped.
It’s always nice and cool inside the cafe, which provides much-needed relief from the often scorching heat outside. The Cat-Up Cafe is a great place to cool off and take a brief rest from what could be a sweltering walking tour around the area.
And in case you’re wondering the biggest ‘Pro’ of the Cat-Up Cafe?
Well, duh, isn’t it obvious?…
- The Cats!
Head on up the stairs, wash your hands and remove your shoes (don’t worry, there are cubby holes for everyone’s belongings!), and enter the cat room. There are usually around ten cats inside. They’re well-accustomed to having many visitors throughout the day, and therefore are extremely approachable. As cats often do, many will be sleeping or lazing around, but won’t mind at all if you start petting them. There’s also an assortment of cat toys you can grab to play with the cuddly felines. Up in the cat room, there are always a few caretakers watching over the cats, to make sure both the little critters and the cafe customers are behaving themselves properly. The cats themselves are designer-type breeds, don’t expect common street cats in this cafe. One is an enormous beast, thrice the size of normal house cats. Some breeds have scrunched-in snouts or odd ears, long fur, etc.
Although the Cat-Up Cafe has many positive attributes, there are a few areas which could be improved:
Prices for drinks generally range from between 80-150 Baht ($2.20-$4.20). Such prices certainly aren’t outrageous, but you can easily find cheaper drinks of similar quality in smaller cafes or coffee stalls around Bangkok (coffee stall drinks will run between 25-50 Baht, by comparison). Expect to pay 100-200 Baht for desserts, and more for meals. So the prices are a little higher than the standard, but I suppose you’re paying for the atmosphere in addition to your beverages. No big deal!
- The Full Meals
I’d recommend getting a bite to eat elsewhere before heading to the cafe. Although their coffees, shakes, and desserts are high-quality, the meals leave a lot to be desired, and are overpriced. You can find tastier food for half the price at numerous restaurants or street stalls within short walking distance of the cafe.
- Lots of Rules
I’m reaching here, and I can’t really say this is a negative as it protects the cats and ensures no dust-ups between the star attractions and the clientele. If I was a cat, I suppose I’d appreciate these rules. It would certainly be annoying to be constantly getting picked up and tossed around all the time. That being said, it kind of sucks to not be able to pick up any of these cuddly creatures!
- Lack of Chairs in the Cat Room
Upstairs in the cat room, there aren’t any chairs available. There’s a short ‘bar’ made for people who sit on the hardwood floor, where you can set your drinks and food (watch out so the cats don’t get it!). This isn’t a big deal unless you have back or leg issues, it may be uncomfortable for many older or heavier-set people to have to squat down on the hard floor. You can always go downstairs and sit in the chairs and bar stools offered, although you won’t be hanging out with the cats down there.
Overall Experience: Definitely Worth It!
I’ve visited the Cat-Up Cafe on several occasions, and likely will again if I ever find myself in the Silom area. If you want a nice place to relax, sip some good coffee, cool off from the outside, and pet/play with some cute little critters, give this pleasant cafe a go…. you’ll probably make some furry new friends and keep coming back for more!