"The cats Pelle and Caruso are here to give you love. You can relax here after a long day of work." Andrea Kollmorgen
"In Japan cat café holders make money with the cats. They charge you six euros to pet a cat for half an hour." Andrea Kollmorgen
When you walk into Pee Pee’s cat café, two pairs of cat eyes stare at you, almost begging you to pet them. “They are my special welcome committee,” laughs Andrea Kollmorgen while making some coffee. She just opened Berlin’s first cat café. A place in Neukölln where you have a coffee and can play with a cat.
The 48-year old Andrea, originally from northern Germany’s Rostock, lost her job as a secretary in the beginning of the year. “I actually had enough of being an employee, I wanted to start something myself. I heard about this cat café in Vienna, thought a lot about it, spoke to many friends and decided to open Pee Pee’s cat café here!”
Two cats, Pelle and Karuso, live in the café now. They were found in a box on the street and rescued by a local animal shelter. Andrea knew from the beginning that these two attention-loving brothers would be perfect for her café. “They are here to give you love. This should be a place where you go to after a long day of work, to relax, eat a nice piece of cake, drink a coffee or a wine and cuddle with our cats. Or you read here, we have great books and magazines about cats.”
The concept originally comes from Japan, where cat cafés are part of everyday life. Andrea: “There are lot of cafés over there with cats. The big difference is that they actually make money with the cats. Café holders charge their guests about six euros to pet a cat for half an hour.” In Pee Pee’s the two cats can be stroked for free. The only thing that is forbidden is to feed the cats or to pull their tails.
Pelle and Karuso seem to enjoy all the attention they are getting. They walk from one table to the other, scratch their nails on the way, receive cuddles here and there and relax on the many cat pillows around. “They are absolutely great,” Andrea sighs. “They don’t care about anything, are always relaxed. When we were renovating here before the opening, they slept through all the drilling and hammering. I wish I had some of that utter relaxedness.”
For Andrea, opening the café meant a lot of work. Since its opening, the café has been the centre of attention in the media. “This is the first cat café in Berlin, the attention we get is overwhelming! I wanted to handle this café by myself, but that is just not possible. I already hired a friend of mine, and I am looking for someone to help me out in the kitchen,” she says, while the phone is ringing and more guests enter the café.
And more busy days are coming her way; apart from running the café Andrea is planning to organise seminars and exhibitions in the cat-loving café. “Soon we want to start with lectures about cats, or readings from cat stories. My partner is a musician, it would be great to have live music here too. On a volume that is right for the cats of course,” she laughs.
But even the cats sometimes need a break from all the playing, stroking and being pretty. They can hide in their houses, or simply ignore the guests. Andrea had to go through many bureaucratic obstacles to be able to have to cats in the café. “According to the authorities I have to treat the cats like zoo animals. Pelle and Karuso were checked and I had to pass exams to show I know enough about keeping cats to run this business.”
Apart from that, the café needed adjustments to make sure it met hygiene standards – especially with cats constantly walking around. “Food can’t be in the open air, it’s always locked away somewhere,” Andrea says while checking on her guests. They come from all over Berlin to see the new concept themselves. Young or old, male or female. “I don’t have a clear clientele, people from diverse backgrounds come here,” she laughs. “Last week there was a grown man who was so happy to see the cats that he literally crawled on the floor and played with the cats.”