No beer on the menu, but with six cats wandering around the pub like little divas, the cat café Pebbles at the Hoogstraat takes some getting used to.

In any case, the visitor’s hands are tied from the outset. First you enter through the front door which immediately leads to what looks like a quarantine area. Disinfect hands, and on to door number two where the waitress awaits. She points to the entrance charge – €3.50 per person – which is immediately added to your bill. After all, cats need to eat.

She recommends ordering a cappuccino or hot chocolate with whipped cream. This will entice the cats to come to you, as you can’t just pick one up and put it in your lap. Nobody knows why.


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Cats rule

It has the familiar smell of a pet shop, and it feels awkward, as if you’re at a party with strangers. Cats rule here and they know it. As opposed to the feelings of the rest of the customers, this is not a comforting thought. There’s an ominous feeling, as if you could be asked to leave the party at any moment.

Getting a drink isn’t an option: the bar – which looks like a glass display case – offers only coffee and pastries. Instead of the usual bottles of spirits above the bar, there’s a collection of cat food.

You’re permitted to drink something, but don’t you dare wake up the cats: against the rules. A customer who has just been nuzzled by one of the cats practically glows. Her reaction lasts so long and seems so intense; it’s unclear if she might be experiencing an orgasm.

Crazy about cats

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A student sits at a table with his mother. This young man in his twenties has just celebrated his birthday and a visit to the cat café is his gift. They describe themselves as crazy about cats, but owning such a pet would be too expensive, so a café like this is the perfect solution. A book, Cat Secrets, lies on the table. The mother is talking about a YouTube video she saw about catnip. ‘It’s like drugs for cats,’ she says as her son nods, enjoying himself, eyes wide.

After 45 minutes the sneezing starts, time for Your Reviewer to make his exit. A cat continues to be a complex phenomenon.

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