1. Cats Museum, Kotor, Montenegro
Not a monument to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running musical, but instead, the Cats Museum in Montenegro is quite a quirky venue dedicated to all things feline. If you want to see a 18th century postcard that has a cat on it or a cat-themed stamp that could be used to send it, this is the place for you. There are even lurid posters advertising pulp fiction back from the 1930s, each one featuring a cat, of course.
Completely tucked away in a tiny square in the old town of Kotor – a town that claims the cat as its symbol – the museum was set up by the Countess di Montereale Mantica to house her large collection of cat memorabilia. It only costs a Euro to enter, with all funds used to help care for the city’s sizeable collection of street cats.
2. Poezenboot, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Moored on a canal in Singel, just down from The Doors coffee shop, this houseboat is a huge sanctuary for the homeless cats of Amsterdam – a place for them to sleep and eat until they are rehoused to loving new homes.
Admission and entry is free, but any donations for the running costs of the boat are appreciated. However, be warned: some of the long-term residents are ‘characters’ and not adverse to taking a swipe at unsuspecting visitors.
3. Cat capital of the world, Ciorani, Romania
Ciorani is not an attraction at all, as such. It’s just a tiny village which is tucked away in the southern reaches of the Carpathain mountains in Romania which is overrun by cats. Indeed, with four cats to every human inhabitant, Ciorani has officially been recognized as the ‘World Capital of Cats.’
Once you’ve seen the cats, there isn’t a whole lot else to do. Thankfully, though, the vineyards near Focşani aren’t too far away, so you can spend time over one of the region’s Gothic Merlots and contemplate what life would be like in a place where the cats are king.
4. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London, UK
Created to be a quiet calm refuge in the midst of busy London – for both humans and cats alike – Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in Shoreditch works on the principle that it is impossible to look at a sleeping cat and feel tense. And so, visitors get to enjoy High Tea as a collection of happy rescue cats lounge languidly or stroll aimlessly among the guests.
Unlike many cat cafes around the world, Lady Dinah’s only have nine cats, believing that even adding just one more would create a tense and non-harmonious environment. A cat carer is always on hand to tell you which cats are playful and like a cuddle and which ones are more stand-offish. So you know, there is a small cat welfare cover charge included in the cost of High Tea. Each visit is limited to 90 minutes and booking is advised.
5. Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Your opinion on this tiny temple, which is tucked away in Tokyo’s sleepy Setagaya Ward, will be influenced entirely by your feelings on maneki neko, the ubiquitos ‘beckoning cat’, seen in the windows of Japanese restaurants around the world. If you think he’s adorable, we’re sure you’ll love it..
Built on the site where the original maneki neko beckoned a passing feudal lord to seek shelter from a thunderstorm, Gotokuji has become a place where people may offer replica figurines as a sign of gratitude. The Japanese must have a lot to be thankful for since they are stacked high and wide in every nook and cranny. They’re even on the ema boards, where you yourself can write and hang your wish for it to come true.
6. Cat City, Kuching, Malaysia
Named after a local fruit called ‘Cat’s Eye’, the Malaysian city of Kuching in Sarawak, Borneo, has lovingly embraced its tentative feline heritage to become the world’s first cat-themed city. You cannot swing a cat without somehow hitting an oversized cat sculpture or similar feline-themed piece of public art.
There’s a Cat Museum, of course, reached through the gaping jaws of a giant cat and home to about 2,000 artifacts, including an Egyptian mummified cat. And a cat café, Meow Meow Café, where you will be served two meals, one for you, the other to feed to the resident cats. The local radio station is called CATS FM and there’s a research centre which focuses solely on cat-based religions and cat history.
7. Hemingway’s cats, Key West, USA
Hard-living author Ernest Hemingway was a true man’s man. He loved drinking and he also loved to fight. However, he also adored cats. He was so smitten by kittens that he called them ‘love sponges’. His unashamed favorite was a six-toed Maine Coon whose name was Snowball.
Dozens of Snowball’s descendants are still living on at Hemingway’s estate in the heart of Old Town Key West to this day! Now a historic museum, Hemingway stipulated in his will that they were never to be moved, and now they wander around the grounds as if they own the place.
Make absolutely sure you check out their preferred drinking fountain. It’s an old urinal which Papa Hemingway lugged after a night on the tiles at his favorite bar.