Felines flourish at Finnish cat cafés

A cup of coffee and a cuddly cat create a purrfectly fancatstic café catsperience. We visit cat cafés in Tampere and Helsinki and come away with a whole slideshow of cute cat pics.

“In our café, we’ll pour you a cappuccino that’s like a work of art, with a picture of a cat in the foam,” says Tiina Aaltonen. She and her husband run Purnauskis Cat Café, the first café of its kind in Finland, in the southern central city of Tampere.

The Finnish capital doesn’t want to be outdone: Helsinki also boasts its own cat-inhabited coffee shop, called Cat Café Helkatti. The readers of local publication Helsingin Uutiset (Helsinki News) voted it the best café in Helsinki in 2016. Helkatti even offers cat yoga once a week – at the time of writing we hadn’t heard back from our feline informants about whether they actually prefer the cat pose to downward-facing dog.

When you visit one of these cafés, you can see that the cats really own the place. Purnauskis is the realm of eight furry felines with names such as Nurri, Micu, Evo, Viiru and Lumi (Snow). They stroll down the hall, lie under the tables and sometimes play with customers’ shoelaces. The café customers are just guests – everything is done on the cats’ terms. And the café staff takes good care of them. (Article continues after slideshow.)

“To be awake or not to be awake – that is the question. Whether ’tis cattier in the meow to purr on the sofas and pillows of catrageous fortune, or to take paws against the C of people, and by posing, friend them?” –W. Catspeare Photo courtesy of Tiina Aaltonen/Purnauskis Cat Café

Is this a rousing roar or a mere meow? Photo courtesy of Cat Café Helkatti

“You know, I think that great intelligence may reside behind those eyes,” says Lumi while looking at a human at Purnauskis Cat Café. “Lumi” is the Finnish word for “snow.” Photo courtesy of Tiina Aaltonen/Purnauskis Cat Café

A cool cat called Nurri keeps calm and collected. Photo courtesy of Tiina Aaltonen/Purnauskis Cat Café

Have a catpuccino or a caffè catte, complete with feline-themed foam art. Photo courtesy of Cat Café Helkatti

When visiting a cat café, you may find one of the local residents walking along the armrest of the sofa you thought was yours. Photo courtesy of Tiina Aaltonen/Purnauskis Cat Café

Cats on the windowsill, cats on the curtains – can you spot any other cats in this picture of Cat Café Helkatti? Photo courtesy of Cat Café Helkatti

At Helkatti, Tyylilyyli is in a purple mood. Photo courtesy of Cat Café Helkatti

Helmiina, who resides at Cat Café Helkatti, has a reputation for being playful. Photo courtesy of Cat Café Helkatti

Enough for one day – Purnauskis Cat Café after closing time. Photo courtesy of Tiina Aaltonen/Purnauskis Cat Café

A catalogue of Finnish felines

“Customers like to pet the cats, snuggle with them and play with them,” says Aaltonen. “Parents often bring children here as a reward for behaving well at the doctor’s office, or as a birthday treat. People who have disabilities are also among our customers – we’re happy they enjoy holding and petting the cats.”

Only one of the Purnauskis cats originally belongs to the Aaltonens. All the others used to be homeless; they came to the café through Kisu, a feline-focussed animal protection organisation. As much as the café’s humans love having them around, “we’d be very happy if we could help these cats find new, loving homes,” says Aaltonen.

Helkatti cooperates similarly with Kisu; all but one of the Helsinki cats were homeless when the café welcomed them in. They go by names such as Tuli (Fire), Puu (Wood), Herkules, Nestori, Helmiina and (try to say this) Tyylilyyli.

By Anna Liukko and ThisisFINLAND staff, March 2018