There is a special place in the city centre, near the Arany János Street metro station, which can turn even the most notorious cat haters into cat lovers: this is the Cat Museum Budapest, which opened at the beginning of September. All you need is a cosy atmosphere, the kindness of the hosts, and, of course, eight friendly, cuddly, playful, and gentle cats who dispel all negative stereotypes. A visit to the Cat Museum Budapest is also a good way to relieve stress, as purring heals the soul.
Soft paws, soothing purrs, 100% cats – we visited Cat Musem Budapest
For some unspecified reason, the majority of people consider themselves either dog or cat people and they even claim that it's impossible to cross between the two groups. It is as if since the beginning of time, there really is some ancient antagonistic opposition between dogs and cats. Perhaps because dogs go at every animal, even each other, not necessarily to hurt one another, but rather to play, because they live in packs, and cats are distant and distrustful even of each other, as they are the lone warriors of the animal world. The reason behind this opposition is an old dilemma of mine because, in my opinion, it's possible to love a cat and a dog at the same time. At the Cat Museum Budapest, we can devote ourselves to cats, even if we consider ourselves to be exclusively dog people. It's easy to surrender here.
Entering the museum, you will be swept off your feet by the purring, cuddling, playful, and friendly nature of eight cats. You'll leave the Vadász Street site wanting to take at least three of them home, which of course you can't, as the museum is their home, but you can always come back for another cuddle. Maybe because you don't have one at home, as you can't keep one for some reason.
But Macaco, Candy, Leonardo, Cicero, Simba, Neytiri, Maya, and Pirate are waiting for your return and are always ready for a play or a purr.
The Cat Museum is open every day except Monday. Tuesday to Friday from 2 pm to 8 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm and (after an extended lunch break) from 2:30 pm to 7 pm. While cat cafés do not have a guest limit, the Cat Museum does: a maximum of 20 people are allowed in at one time, but not from opening to closing. You have to purchase a ticket to spend time with the cats for 90 minutes at a time. Children and pensioner tickets cost HUF 2,490, adult ones cost HUF 2,990, but there is also a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for HUF 9,900, and a nine-entry ticket (so-called ‘Pet the Cats Pass’) for HUF 17,900, which can also be divided between multiple people. The tickets also include a free drink. It's also important to note that although you can drop in from the street, the best and safest way is to book in advance on the website, otherwise you may have to wait until there are fewer than 20 people inside.
The residents of the Cat Museum dispel all negative stereotypes about cats. First of all, they are very friendly, seek human contact, cuddle and push their heads to you, almost asking to be petted. None of them scratch or bite, and although they run around a lot, all eight are remarkably calm. Of course, it's no coincidence that they are all such good cats, having been carefully selected from all over the country. Specifically, cats were chosen who aren't grumpy or aggressive with each other or their guests, but rather calm and meek.
The question often occurs why the Cat Museum is a called museum, but as soon as you step inside and look around, you'll know. Not only can you watch the cats playing and pet them, but the place – which has two floors with a large gallery area – is all about cats. The walls are covered with paintings of cats, ranging from simple stock photos to those depicting cats in typical Budapest spots (such as the Fisherman's Bastion or the Gellért Baths), but the most imaginative are the kittyfied versions of classic paintings. They're also available for purchase. There is a selfie wall and souvenirs ranging from key chains, cushions, and jewellery to T-shirts and even the world's most expensive coffee, civet coffee.
What is civet coffee?
palm civet is a species native to Malaysia. They eat coffee beans,
and here comes the twist that makes the coffee interesting. The Asian palm
civet can only digest the coffee bean husk, the rest of the crop passes
through the animal's digestive system as one and is then defecated.
Finally, these beans are collected. Only part of the protein content is lost
from the beans, which is why the coffee brewed from them does not taste so
bitter. The official name of this type of coffee is Kopi Luwak.
There are not only cat pictures, but also all sorts of interesting cultural and historical information about cats hanging on the wall, a documentary about them is projected in the gallery, and there's a platform to test your knowledge about felines, as well. Plus, there's a children's corner below where little ones can draw their own pet cat if they have one, or the cat they liked best in the Museum. It's hard to choose, though, as somehow, it's always the cutest one that sits down next to us, or more precisely, in our lap. So, you keep going back trying to make up your mind, never realising that you can't. Cats are clever creatures, they'll never let you decide, besides, there are eight furry bundles of joy here. Even so, there are guests who keep coming back for one specific cat, but there are always exceptions.
Although the Cat Museum Budapest is not unique in the world and can be found in other places, for example in Europe, the Hungarian version is not part of a franchise, but a separate concept with its own identity. Although the original idea was to attract people who don't have cats, for the time being, they are in the minority, most visitors have their own. The place is popular not only among Hungarians but foreigners, as well, mainly because they miss their own cats. It seems that once you have a cat, you'll never get rid of it. But why should you?