I had the pleasure to be invited last October to visit Nurri Kassikohvik – the cat cafe in Tallinn, Estonia. Not only I got to visit the cafe, I was also invited to give a talk on the subject of cat!
Nurri Kassikohvik situates in a super handy city centre location in Tallinn in the heart of one of the major shopping areas. It is a short walk away from the Old Town. So you really have no excuse not to visit if you are a tourist in Tallinn!
Nurri Cat Cafe was opened in October 2014 by the husband and wife team Helen Jõudna and JJ (Jaanus Juhan) Illend.
Before opening the cafe Helen was Chief Accountant in several companies. JJ was an IT manager. For years Helen had been thinking of starting her own business (I know the feeling!), but it was hard to leave a good job and colleagues. In 2013 and 2014, Helen was on maternity leave for baby Jasmine, so she started imagining her new work life again. She saw London cat cafe in a TV show and liked the idea so much that decided to open one in Tallinn too. Keeping a cafe is a lifestyle, so it was natural her husband also lives the same life and Nurri Cat Cafe as family business was born! (I actually talked about business and family on this post, and I will talk more about it soon as well, make sure to check out my posts about business if you are interested).
On arriving to the cafe, I can see immediately that the cafe owner Helen and JJ have put a lot of thought into the design of the cafe. First of all, the double door design impressed me immediately. It is to ensure that cats won’t be able to dash out to the main street. The white doors you see from the above picture is only the outer door, once you have entered that door, you will need to wait for the staff to open the inner security sliding door.
On entering the cafe, oh my goodness…
You can see immediately they have put a lot of thought into environment enrichment for the cats. The ‘highway’ on the ceiling for cats to observe human without disturbance, plenty of scratching places, plenty of cat beds and a major cat retreat if the cats find the human buzz all too much. You can see on the photos, human seem to really enjoy observing cats that are on the highway too.
You can see the various environmental enrichment measures on these photos.
As for human’s comfort, I visited the cafe after dark to give an evening lecture, but as you can see the lovely big windows with bright light on these pictures taken during the day.
Well, it IS a cafe, so let’s also talk about the food on offer. Obviously, the main focus of my visit was about the cats, so I didn’t know what to expect. But as it turns out, the food at Nurri Cafe was really good! I had a pancake dish with rooibos tea. It was lovely.
I also know Helen and JJ try to make things interesting by offering different things on the weekend, they do sushi buffet sometimes, pancake buffet, etc. I must try to attend one of their weekend buffets when I am in Tallinn next time.
And look at THESE!!!
Now, let’s meet the cat staff!
All the cats are of very gentle temperament. Some are more friendly to human than the other, but they are all very tolerant to noise, children grabby hands, and the gentle buzz of a cafe.
The kitty sisters (Pummi, Tulnukas, Lõvi):
The sisters were born to the same mother-cat. Tulnukas and Lõvi were born in May 2014, while Pummi is 4 months younger – she is from the next litter. When the sisters moved to our café in last July, little Lõvi (which means “Lion” in Estonian) hardly resembled the mighty animal she was named after. Now however Lõvi has grown up and looks like a true lioness. The kitty sisters are very sociable and playful and like to be petted. They are the favorites of café visitors, they love to play and run. Pummi also has great respect for the running wheel for cats.
Kriimu is 2 years old cat, newest in cafe cat family. She does not play as often as other cafe cats, but when she does, it is worth watching, she has her own style
He is a young male cat who came to the cafe in May 2016 from the new shelter for homeless animals in Lääne County, which opened last year in Vilkla, near Haapsalu.
A small female cat who came to the cafe in February 2016 from the animal shelter of Haapsalu. She immediately starts to purr when caressed! A little shy around people, but gets along well with other cats, feeling especially close to Space and Heracles.
A very friendly and sociable male cat who feels right at home at the cafe since his first minute here. He came to the cafe in February 2016 from the animal shelter of Haapsalu.
The youngest cafe cat, who was born in Tallinn at the end of March in 2016. As it is always the case with kittens, Urr is a very energetic, playful and fun companion for the visitors as well as other cats in the cafeteria.
Here are cats and humans enjoying each other’s company…
All the cat staff of the Nurri Cafe are from the cat shelters. Please make sure to use this opportunity to check out the cat charity in Estonia – Varjupaikade MTÜ (Animal shelters in Estonia) and donate if you are able to help them. Like most animal charities around the world, they are in much need of funding. You may also follow their Facebook page.
The problem of having a lecture in a cat cafe is, cats are going to go STRAIGHT onto your computer when you are trying to set up…
And then fight ON your computer…
Helen told me Molly on the left hand side of this photo has since been rehomed due to fighting episode like that. She ensured us that any cat that might be more suitable to be in a home environment will be rehomed accordingly. No cat is ‘forced’ to work at Nurri Cafe.
I gave a talk on Introduction to Cat Behaviour, it was one of the first of this kind in Tallinn and as you can see the whole cafe was filled up. I had a great time talking with the cat lovers of Tallinn and got some very interesting questions at the Q&A as well.
You can check out my slide show on SlideShare.
As a mother, I would conclude Nurri Cafe is definitely a child friendly venue. It’s a great venue for your little one to explore and learn about animal. All the cats are very used to dealing with children. If they find it too much they will leave or go into the retreat, there are plenty of space for them to avoiding the children if they don’t feel like interacting with them. Of course, make sure to use the opportunity to teach your children about respect and boundary towards animal.
My son very quickly copped on with the idea of the cat retreat and was telling us that cats are sleeping in there.
The Cashback Card
You can tell immediate JJ is putting his experience as IT manager in use at Nurri Cafe. They have this cute Nurri Cafe Cashback Card where you can collect points and check your status on an app. It can be used at all Cashback merchants.
The Gift Store
Helen and JJ also stock a selection of cat theme souvenirs at the cashier. And of course, there was always ‘someone’ trying to help…(not helpful!)
I got these myself from Helen and JJ. Thank you so much and thank you for having me!
All in all, I really enjoy my visit at Nurri Cafe and am very pleased to make friends with Helen and JJ. It’s just amazing cat lovers around the world could just ‘click’ and friendship can be established immediately.
Nutri Cafe is a must visit for cat loving tourists and resident of Tallinn alike! If I live in Tallinn, I will go there once a week!
Alice Chau-Ginguene is a Cat Sitter and Behaviourist at Maow Care in Dublin. She was born in Hong Kong and have travelled with 10627.48km with her cat Larmlarm moving to Paris then onto Dublin. When she is not working with cats, she is writing about cats. You can join her on her adventure (and misadventure) on her blog – The Purrfect Job.