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Inside Iceland’s cat cafe

Inside Iceland’s cat cafe

Posted by Armarkat on 3rd Jul 2024

Inside Iceland’s cat cafe

As the only cat cafe in Iceland, Kattakaffihúsið sets a new record in the country called the ‘land of fire and ice.’ Along with providing friendly cats to spend time with, the cafe displays renowned murals and offers a menu of delicious coffee and deserts. It’s no surprise that Kattakaffihúsið has garnered attention from locals and tourists alike. To learn more about their mission to help cats across Reykjavik, we interviewed one of the co-owners, Ragnheiður Birgisdóttir.

Ragnheiður, can you tell us how Kattakaffihúsið began?

The name of the cafe is Kattakaffihúsið, which literally means “Cat coffee house.” The Mjá sign on the wall is how we say/write “meow” in Icelandic. My co-owner is Gígja Sara Björnsson. We are two friends who founded and own the cafe.

Why did you want to start a cat cafe?

We had both heard of cat cafes around 2013 and thought it was the greatest idea ever and when we both had an opening in our jobs/lives in 2016, we started talking seriously about this, how great it would be to be able to help cats in need and have a cozy place where you could sip coffee in the company of cats. What could be better?

What is the adoption system for cats at your cafe?

Our cats are all up for adoption and come to the cafe through local homes that need to rehome their cats for some reason. In Iceland there are strict rules about having pets if you are renting or live in an apartment building and other reasons can come up as well. We foster them at the cafe and people can meet them there and apply to adopt. We pair the cats to homes that suit their needs. For example, some need to be in a home without small children, others need to be the sole pet and some need to be able to go outdoors–all kinds of things to take into consideration when choosing a new home for them.

What is your favorite thing about running a cat cafe?

The best part about running the cafe is seeing the cats flourish in their new homes. We have also had cats come to the cafe through vets that have had the cat brought in to be put down despite being healthy and we have been able to give them a second chance at life. Seeing older cats that took a long time to rehome due to their age getting a second chance as well is very rewarding. We have rehomed 108 cats in the six years we have been open, which makes us very happy. We love meeting people from all over the world who come to the cafe to get their cat "fix" and share stories of their own cats as well.

What inspired the art in your cafe and your online store?

All the artwork in the cafe and on our products is by Icelandic high fashion designer Helga Björnsson, who worked for a high fashion house in Paris her whole career.

Does Reykjavik have a lot of cats in the community?

There are a lot of cats in Reykjavik and neighbouring areas that you will see out and about. Cats are very popular in Iceland. Most of them are very friendly and like the attention and some have become regular guests at a few shops and different places in Reykjavik where you can visit them. We regularly get a visit, usually daily, from one of our neighbours called Skuggi, a black 13-year-old male who lives across the street from us. He comes in for a little attention from the guests and has his own favorite spot where he takes a nap.

Tourist recommendation

We also spoke with our friend Lise, who visited the cafe as a tourist. She shared the following about her experience at Kattakaffihúsið:

“I wanted to see what cat cafes are like in other countries. We stopped by Kattakaffihúsið twice because it was such a relaxing space. We also wanted to say hi to the cats again before we left to go back to the US. I have been to three cat cafes before, all in different Midwest US cities, so I was excited to see a cat cafe for the first time overseas. My favorite thing was the rule that cats can claim a chair and cannot be moved by customers–I like how the cats come first! I highly recommend it for all cat lovers!”

We encourage you to follow Kattakaffihúsið on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok,. For cat news from Iceland, check out their website, www.katta