Haarlem is so close to Amsterdam that Frank and I often go there for a day trip. It’s much more civilised than Amsterdam. The Red Light District there is quite small which means it doesn’t attract the amount of low life and spin-off criminality that Amsterdam does. Many streets are pedestrianised and it generally has a calm feeling which you can’t find in the centre of Amsterdam.
So, after heading to Haarlem and doing a little bit of early Christmas shopping for such essentials as Dachshund-shaped Christmas baubles and mince pies from expat shop A Taste of Home, we decided we needed some rest and sustenance. Good fortune favours the brave and we happily stumbled across Cat Café, Jippies. I believe that this concept of allowing cats to mix with customers while they enjoy their beverages originated in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998 but it truly became a ‘thing’ in Tokyo, Japan. More about the history on this Wikipedia page.
There are ground rules for each individual cat café however; washing your hands before entry, not picking up the cats, and not giving them titbits from the table. Seemed reasonable enough, so before we knew it we were sitting down being largely ignored by the seven rescue cats that grace customers with their presences at Jippies Katten Cafe
In case you’re wondering about hygiene, the food preparation area is totally sealed off from the cats and they have a separate area at the back of the café where they can escape to whenever they want to. There were no smells of cat either; the café was scrupulously clean. You can leave a donation for the cat’s welfare if you wish, but by patronising the café you also contribute to the upkeep of the seven rescue cats.
Cats, or pets in general seem to engender ‘gezelligheid’ which is that Dutch word no one can really translate. It’s often translated as cosy, but gezelligheid also says something about a sense of community. At Jippies, instead of being strangers with a load of other strangers at separate tables, it felt like an informal gathering of mutual cat-lovers. The cats’ antics got people chatting and so the ice was broken. So the friendliness brought about by the cats was another bonus. Needless to say, the sticky banana cake wasn’t bad either. So if you are ever in Haarlem in need of a furry friend and sustenance, head to Jippies, Katten Café!
2011 VS Haarlem
Open Wed thru Sun 10am to 5.30pm
Watch Haarlem vlogger, Marit, at Jippies. (all in Dutch)