Every city has one of those hidden heartwarming places basking in an awesome urban legend. In Vienna this is the Cats Café in the heart of the city, right next to our financial district, not far from the Kaiser’s final resting place. The café is said to belong to a cat, due to inheritance issues. It is rumored that the fluffy fellow is the heir of the café and lives there all the time, reigning supreme and flirting with customers. The walls are covered with cat paraphernalia and the jingle-jangle from the jukebox is mostly Cat Stevens, Pussycat Dolls or Tiger Lillies. This perfect little island of escapism is asses to elbows with friendly people and of course this cat just hanging out makes everyone smile mildly. As for the inability of felines to pour drinks (those pussies, they’re afraid of liquids) and their general arrogance, we talked to the waitress of our new favorite place on earth (and brought the cat a bouquet of the finest cat food we could find).
Vice: Please tell us something about your catabulous colleague.
Ilse Neschwara: Minnie Minnie (the cat), lives here since the very beginning and has never lived anywhere else. Now she is 11 years old and has never seen another place. I mean I work here, but to the cat this is its home. When she was younger we tied her to a leash so she couldn’t escape, but now she’s rather old and mellow and no adventurous whippersnapper anymore.
OK, we now need to bring some clarity into that legend. Does the café really belong to the cat?
Well, they say that you are always a guest of the cat and not the other way round. But actually my husband was the owner of the café. After he died, his beloved cat Minnie Minnie and me became the owners.
So you are very close to the cat?
Hm, lets put it that way: we are more of co-workers, because the cat doesn’t live with me and I only see it when I am at work. But we get along well. When I go home I just call her and she’s there immediately to greet me goodbye with a “Servus-Baba!” On some days, especially when there are parties or some other festivities, we are open really late. My only day off is Sunday so I am really busy actually and the cat too. We are opened from ten till midnight – this kind of welds us together.
What happens if the cat dies?
I didn’t think about that yet.
There are cat pictures and cat gimmicks everywhere. Do you like cats?
I thought it suited the overall theme and the name of the café. It’s not that I am particularly into cats, I just liked it that way and the customers dig it too.
Do the people come because of the cat?
Apparently yes. In the beginning people even brought her ham and other treats but I had to stop that, for the cat was feeling sick and became lazy.
Does she bite or scratch the customers?
No, she would never bite anybody, unless you badger her.
Isn’t the cat bothered by the noise, smoke, and general bar atmosphere?
Not at all, she’s really used to that. As I told you, she grew up here and knows nothing else. Minnie Minnie is actually very sad and depressed when there are no customers, because she runs short of strokes and caressing. She even knows some of the frequenters and would never miss the chance to greet them.
Aww, what a little bon vivant.
Yes, she has a lust for life and gets along well with everybody. She even likes dogs and especially children. Sometimes she runs after them and I have to catch her and tie her to the leash for another day, so she doesn’t do it again.
You also seem like a nice person that gets along well with people.
I am known for pampering my customers. That and the cat makes them come back.
I will definitely see you again soon.