One of my favorite things about Korea is the immense variety of cafes, each competing to offer unique experiences for customers. Until I lived in Daegu, I didn’t know petting zoos could also be places to sit and drink coffee. To me, coffee shops were either Starbucks or a local cafe where you were supposed to sit back and knit sweaters or write poetry. Although there are some pet cafes in the United States, featuring cats or dogs, they are rare and novel, so exploring animal-themed cafes in Daegu has been both entertaining and therapeutic (for the times when you just need a dog to cuddle).
Below are four animal cafes I have experienced so far in Korea. Please forgive the picture quality; I’m not a photographer and I don’t think I’ll ever be one.
The Cat Cafe
I’m not what you would call a “cat” person, but I was curious about visiting this cafe, especially as it’s the first animal one I had been to. There was a large number of cats roaming the cafe, napping on people’s coats, or hiding in those carpet towers cats enjoy. If you buy fish treats for the cats, they’ll come up to you and try to claw your face off for a taste. Otherwise, they were kind of indifferent to customers. Sometimes they wouldn’t mind if you petted them–just not on their right shoulder, the center of their chin, their whiskers, their belly, or any region remotely near their tail.
In all seriousness, though, this cafe was fun to visit. It was pretty clean and the cats were well-groomed and, sometimes, well-dressed. Of all the cats I petted, only a few of them were plotting against me.
I had been warned by my cat-loving co-worker that the dog cafes were nasty because dogs pee and poo on everything, and cats don’t. This, unfortunately, was confirmed for me in the Pet Cafe, which had dogs on one level and cats on another. However, this cafe was mainly just disappointing because we seemed to have gone at a time where there were few dogs, most of which were tiny and aggressive–the two qualities that I dislike in cats.
Racoona Matata is probably the most unique animal cafe in Daegu. When I was growing up, racoons were the rodents that tore the lids off my family’s garbage cans and feasted on our trash. My dad would try to come up with methods of keeping them away, like fastening bungie cords around the trash can lids, but they always found their way in and made huge messes.
The racoons in the cafe, you can tell, are just as smart and conniving, but it was fun to get up close to them and pet their heads in the cage they were contained in, or watch them on the ceiling ramp where they would crawl out and try to reach for our food. They were cute, but also a little creepy with their grabby hands and the way they stood on two feet.
Cat Dog Cafe
My favorite animal cafe is the Cat Dog Cafe. This one has a lot of dogs who are all really sweet and cuddly, and there are more than just the tiny, yappy dogs. In this cafe, there is one floor for the cats and an upper floor for dogs. Before we went up to the dog floor, we put on skirts that the cafe provided, which encourages dogs to curl up on your lap because they are familiar with the sight and material of the skirts and have been, in a way, trained to trust them. The skirts also help keep off the dog hair and drool from your clothes.
I stayed here for a couple of hours with my friends, petting the dogs as they fell asleep in our laps. The dogs were so relaxed that one of my friends started to lose feeling in his legs because a huge dog was curled up on him like a puppy. He dragged himself backwards all the way across the cafe to fetch his coffee and the dog didn’t even stir.
So, as far as I know, these are all the animal cafes in Daegu. But with such a quickly-changing city, maybe there will be a cafe with monkeys soon.