9 Cat-Centric Vacation Destinations To Visit If You’re Obsessed With Your Feline Friend
Millennials are reclaiming the term cat lady in full force. If you fit squarely in this cohort, you might find yourself Instagramming the heck out of your feline friend, or even planning vacations around spots you can take Fluffy too. Heck, even if you don't currently have a cat, you can still travel to cat-centric vacation destinations to get your fix. From huge sanctuaries to ancient temples, islands, and museum exhibitions devoted to the humble domestic feline in history, the globe's got a lot of exciting itineraries for anybody who wants to make cats the focal point of a trip — or just have a day of cat-loving in the midst of a bigger adventure. It's all enough to make your cat at home feel almost jealous of your affections.
Make sure to do your research before visiting a place that puts cats front and center, as with anything involving animals. Fortunately, there are many places that are meant to rehabilitate cats, or are even oriented towards helping you take home one of your own. Always obey the rules of the space, don't bring in unsanctioned treats, don't approach cats aggressively or make them feel unsafe, and don't treat them as entertainment; they're real living creatures who deserve to be treated properly and respectfully. Once you follow those rules, however, enjoy your cat-centric adventure. Here are nine places around the world you can hang out with cats as part of your vacation.
1. Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome
The Torre Argentina lies in the heart of Rome. The ruins once housed the famous Pompey's Theater and the site where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Nowadays, though, it's the site of a cat sanctuary where up to 150 cats roam freely through marble and open space, and are cared for by volunteers. The Torre is easily viewed from the street, and many of its cats are also open for adoption and sponsorship by the public.
2. Aoshima Island, Japan
You've likely seen pictures of this one: it's one of the "cat islands" of Japan, almost completely overrun by felines who were originally introduced to deal with rodents. It's remote and there's no overnight accommodation — indeed, only about 20 people live on the island at any one time, compared to hundreds of cats — but if you want an extensive day trip, it could be well worth it. Bear in mind that the cats may not be socialized and that some of them might not be too pleased with humans interrupting their nap in cat paradise.
3. Roosevelt Island Cat Sanctuary, NYC
If you'd like a dose of the creepy, this abandoned smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York City is for you; a small cat sanctuary now helps to care for and rehome the population of feral and stray cats that roams over the hospital site off Manhattan. All the sanctuary cats have names and are open for adoption and visitors who might want to give them some attention.
4. Neco Republic Cat Café Japan
Cat cafés worldwide are a growing trend, but Neco Republic, like several others of its kind, is special: rather than keeping cats for the express purpose of entertaining cafe visitors, it's linked to a shelter and uses the café to help those cats get adopted. There are now a few throughout Japan, so if you feel like visiting a cat café during your time in the country, seek out one of those.
5. The Big Cat Sanctuary, UK
The Big Cat Sanctuary is very rarely open to visitors, but a few days a year it opens its doors for pre-booked tours. It's largely private for the very good reason that it's not for public entertainment; it's for the rehabilitation and protection of big cats, like leopards, jaguars, and more. If you want to encounter them, you need to book a tour or a stay in the sanctuary itself overnight.
6. Cat House On The Kings, California
The biggest no-kill, no-cage cat sanctuary in the United States has about 700 cats roaming around at any one point, and has appeared on National Geographic and Animal Planet. The place is available for tours and you can also involve yourself in the lives of the cats through webcams, sponsorship, gifts and donations. And, of course, you can take one home yourself if you fulfill their criteria.
7. Cats Museum, Montenegro
This museum in Kotor, Montenegro, contains a huge collection of cat paraphernalia, from advertising to postcards, books, and stamps. It only costs 1 euro to enter, and the city of Kotor itself is full of cats; they're the emblem of the place, and the gift shop at the museum sells cat food to keep them happy.
8. Gotokuji Temple, Japan
Less into real-life cats but still want a seriously Instagrammable moment? A Buddhist temple in Tokyo, the Gotokuji Temple features innumerable amounts of the distinctive waving-hand luck cat statues, the Maneki Neko, to give luck to visitors. You can purchase one of your own to fund the temple, and place it there to wave to future visitors if you like.
9. Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta
If you're intrigued by the history of cats, you'll love the travelling exhibition Divine Felines: Cats Of Ancient Egypt, which is at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta until November 11 2018. It's been shown in many museums throughout the United States, so if you miss this show, pay attention to where it ends up next. From mummified cats to images of feline deities, it's a treat for anybody who really does believe their cat might be a god — or that the cat believes it, anyway.
Love cats, will travel. If that phrase feels like you, you'll love any of these cat-centric destinations. Just make sure to book a cat-friendly Airbnb, too.