S’pore’s first cat cafe Neko No Niwa closes after 8 years: ‘It was our privilege to have been a part of your life’ – Mothership.SG

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Cat Cafe Neko No Niwa, Singapore’s first-ever cat cafe, will permanently close its doors by May 1, 2022.

Baloo’s death

Tan Sue Lynn (Sue) and Samuel Isaac Chua (Sam), the owners of the cat cafe, had been toying with the idea of ​​closing for some time, but it was the death of one of their beloved male cats , Baloo, who solidified their decision to permanently close the doors of Cat Cafe Neko No Niwa.

Owners didn’t expect 13-year-old Baloo to pass so quickly, or so quickly, as the feline’s blood tests were ‘perfect’ for an elderly cat, and they felt he had at least a few years on his trail.

However, Baloo began to display a “worrying change in behavior” in late 2021, and soon after the cat retired and was adopted by a cafe worker, eager to spend time with her “favorite boy”.

Little did they know Baloo’s health would take a drastic turn for the worse, and the cat died just three weeks after his retirement on December 23, 2021, after being diagnosed with brain tumours.

Impacted by Covid-19

The cafe officially announced its impending closure on its social media platforms Facebook and instagram on March 1, 2022.

Sue said Mothership that Covid-19 was one of the reasons for the cafe’s closure.

She said it had had an impact on the cafe’s business operations, such as struggling with several near-empty or completely empty months over the past two years or so.

When Mothership went to the cafe around 4pm on March 10, there were five customers and two employees.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

Cats (and human owners) don’t get any younger

The other reason was that the cats were not getting any younger.

During the two-year pandemic, the café cats are currently between nine and 13 years old.

Sue pointed out that the first two human years of a cat’s life are equivalent to 24 years old catafter which, one human year equals four years in the life of a cat.

This means that the cafe cats are currently around 52 to 68 years old.

Since the average lifespan of a cat is between 12 and 18 years old, all of the cats in the café are in the late stages of their lives, and Sue said she would like these felines to live out their middle years. retirement in a comfortable home.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

“Time waits for neither man nor cat,” joked Sue, who admitted that she and Sam weren’t getting any younger either.

As such, Sue said the couple have no plans to move or re-open the cafe with any new kittens, other than lounging with the cafe’s cats in the future.

Singapore’s first cat cafe

The idea of ​​opening a cat cafe in Singapore came about after the couple made several visits to cat cafes in Japan.

And as cat owners themselves, Sue said she has experienced first-hand the joy and therapeutic benefits that being around cats would bring.

It was something the couple thought Singapore could benefit from – having their own cat cafe – especially at a time when mental health was not widely discussed when they started, Sue said.

However, implementing the idea had its challenges.

While the couple conceived the idea earlier in 2012, Cat Cafe Neko No Niwa didn’t open to the public until about a year later on December 25, 2013.

Indeed, there was no such thing as a cat cafe at the time, and Sue said the owners had to spend about a year convincing various authorities about the then novel concept of a cat cafe.

Cultivated a strong and loyal fanbase for eight years

Fast forward to 2022, the Cat Cafe has spent the past eight years or so calling the second level of a retail building at 54A Boat Quay.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

Over the years, the cafe has attracted many customers, local and foreign, many of whom have become loyal fans of the establishment.

It also gained a good reputation among tourists during the pre-pandemic era and is rated 4.5 out of five on the Tripadvisor online review platform, where it is one of the few must-see places in Singapore.

Just take a look at the cafe instagram page and it’s easy to see why the cafe is so popular and how it garnered 13,000 subscribers.

This is partly due to the 10 full-time resident cats ages 9-13 eating, playing, sleeping and indulging in all sorts of adorable antics at Cat Cafe Neko No Niwa, which translates to “cat garden” in Japanese.

This perhaps explains the bittersweet response to the cafe’s announcement of its intention to close, where many of the cafe’s former customers expressed sadness at seeing the cafe disappear. They also agreed that it was time for the cats to enjoy their golden age.

Customers also took turns sharing the impact the cafe and its cats have had on their lives and thanking the cafe for its service and memories.

Screenshot by @nekononiwa/Instagram Stories on March 2.

Sue revealed to Mothership that ever since the cafe announced its closure, she has received an outpouring of love and support from the public.

She said “seeing these comments and posts” still stirs a lot of emotions.

According to The time of the straitsthe cafe has also received a surge in bookings, with some of those customers even coming from various parts of the world just to see the cafe’s cats one last time.

The cafe cats have been adopted

Besides the adorable cafe cats, another possible reason why Cat Cafe Neko No Niwa has had such a profound impact on the feline community could be due to its focus on feline education and awareness.

Sue said: “We’ve been clear from the start that we won’t be ‘just a cat cafe’, but also an advocate for cat adoption, responsible cat ownership, as well as a resource center for better cat care by offering workshops and sharing knowledge.

Unsurprisingly, the cafe is aptly named, and all 10 cafe cats have been adopted in one way or another.

In addition to acting as an intermediary between its cats and customers, the cafe also hosts quarterly workshops on proper cat care and is actively involved in various local cat communities.

These include Community Cat Feeders, Foster Families, Cat Rescuers and Adopters, the Cat Welfare Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA Singapore).

Many coffee supporters have said they have benefited from the Cat Cafe Neko No Niwa workshops, and some have even said that the coffee has inspired them to adopt, rather than buy, their cats.

Sue said: “Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa has had such an impact on so many lives, of both cats and humans…we are pleased with our accomplishments and the positive difference we have made.”

Closure of the cafe by May 1, 2022

The property will be leaving the premises shortly on May 1, 2022.

“We (Sue and Sam) are obviously sad to have to call it a day,” Sue said when Mothership asked her how she and Sam felt about the cafe’s impending closure.

Her words carried an obvious tinge of reluctance although she also said Mothership that she and Sam have “sort of internalized” the upcoming shutdown.

For those wondering what will happen to the cafe’s 10 cats, Sue said they’ve all already been accounted for.

Some of the cats will be adopted by the cafe staff, while the others will go home with her and Sam.

“It was our privilege.”

However, that won’t be the last time customers see the cats or hear from Sue.

Indeed, she promised to continue posting regular cat updates and general cat care information on the cafe’s Instagram page, much to the relief of many.

When asked if she had a farewell message for her followers, she said: “We thank everyone who has joined us on this journey, and we are deeply grateful for your love and support throughout. difficult last times. It was our privilege to have been a part of your lives in so many ways! Thank you for loving our cats and loving what we do.”

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

Image of Fiona Tan on March 10.

She added, “Stay tuned as we recap the fond memories, milestones and achievements of Singapore’s first cat cafe!”

Sue recommended those wishing to pay one last visit to the cafe before it closes to make a reservation in advance.

Chat Cafe Neko No Niwa

Address: The second level of 54A Boat Quay

Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed on Tuesday

Nearest MRT: Clarke Wharf

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Top image from @nekononiwa/Instagram

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