When Cafe Neko, Vienna, Austria's first cat cafe, opened its doors on May 7th, 2012, it was the culmination of three long and difficult years of negotiations with city officials concerned with hygiene issues. To be fair, authorities were setting a number of precedents as cat cafes have been a strictly Japanese phenomenon up until very recently. 

Cafe Neko (“Neko” means “Cat” in Japanese), is the brainchild of owner/operator Takako Ishimitsu (below, left), a 47-year-old Vienna resident who's originally from Japan. Ishimitsu explained her reasoning for opening Cafe Neko was to try and bring a bit of Japanese culture to her adopted country.

As with cat cafes in Tokyo and other large Japanese cities, customers can touch, play with and otherwise interact with the staff cats. Cafe Neko features five such feline hosts: Sonja, Thomas, Moritz, Luca and Momo, all of whom were acquired from a Viennese animal shelter.

In their current environment at Cafe Neko, they roam freely about the cafe and take naps whenever they please: comfy contoured cat beds are set at various locations within the spacious, modern room for their convenience.

Being that Cafe Neko is an actual cafe, or “katzenkaffeehaus” (literally “cats coffee house”), guests can enjoy home-made cakes, Japanese tea and juices sourced from Austrian farmers while getting to know the staff cats (and vice versa).

If you're in the neighborhood and feel like dropping in, Cafe Neko's street address is number 5 Blumenstockgasse and they're open weekdays between 10am and 10pm. Best of all, you don't have to be a cool cat to hang out with them! (via Yahoo News and GMA Network, images via Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

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