Russia’s first cat café: Cats’ Republic in St. Petersburg

Russia’s first cat café: Cats’ Republic in St. Petersburg

Feline-obsessed visitors to St. Petersburg now have one more stop to add to their itinerary: Russia’s first cat café.

The cat café concept is spreading all over the world. With origins in crowded Asian cities like Taipei and Tokyo, the “cat rental” business idea has taken root in smaller urban centers like Boston and Budapest. In Russia, it is no surprise that the cat café trend made its initial landing in feline friendly St. Petersburg, home to the celebrated Hermitage Cats, who protect the world-famous art collection from rats and other unwanted guests.

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A Visa to Visit with KittiesThe St. Petersburg café is called “Cats’ Republic (Республика кошек)” and its concept is similar to its counterparts in other countries; cat-loving customers pay for access to a large room full of a variety of cats for a pre-determined period of time. At the Cats’ Republic, the “republic” concept is taken quite seriously, as each customer must apply for a “visa,” which is granted after a fee is paid (about $7) and certain rules are explained, including the most important rule, which states that visitors to the Cats’ Republic should refrain from trying to play with a cat who does not seem interested in interacting with them.

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The Cat RoomWhen their visa is approved and stamped, Cats’ Republic visitors are led to the door separating the café from the cat room. As there are usually several children in each group, the café “ambassador” tells the group that the final step for entry into the republic is for everyone to meow three times. Regardless of their age, everyone cries, “meow, meow, meow!” in unison and, as if by magic, the door to the Cats’ Republic opens, revealing a large, brightly painted room bursting with feline energy.

Meet a “Hermitage Cat”As the visitors fan out and begin to interact with the cats, the ambassador introduces a few of the more notable “citizens” of the republic, placing special emphasis on those who are former Hermitage Cats. There is always at least one cat in residence who used to be a “Hermitage Cat,” a member of the legion of subterranean hunters who protect the collection at the State Hermitage Museum from mice and other vermin. Occasionally, Hermitage Cats are “retired,” either to private homes or to the Cats’ Republic, where some of the cats are available for adoption.

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A date with a Don SphynxDuring their visit to the Republic, feline enthusiasts are given a chance to mix with approximately 30 cats of various breeds and ages. Some of the cats are more popular, like Dyushes, a friendly but naked and wrinkly Don Sphynx, who always has a group of visitors lined up to take a photo with him. Visits are well-staffed and limited to two or three a day so the cats don’t get over-stimulated. At the end of the hour, visitors are informed that their visas are about to expire and they are ushered out of the Cats’ Republic by way of the hand-washing station, which, not surprisingly, leads straight into the gift shop.

Devin Connolly at Cats' RepublicPhoto credit: Devin Connolly

Devin Connolly with Dyushes at Cats’ Republic
Photo credit: Devin Connolly


Travel to St. Petersburg with MIRThere are many reasons people choose to visit the Cats’ Republic in St. Petersburg, Russia; some can’t have their own cats because of space constraints at home or because their family members are allergic, some people visit the republic because they are trying to decide which breed to get and want to “try out” a particular cat in residence, and some visit simply for the novelty of it. Whatever the reason, a trip to the Cats’ Republic is sure to delight cat lovers of all ages. Just don’t overstay your visa or you may end up on litter box duty!

You can visit the café on a custom, private tour, or travel independently, on your own dates, on our Essential St. Petersburg or Essential Russia itineraries.

You can also drop in during some free time on these MIR small group tours which include time in St. Petersburg:

(All photos taken by Devin Connolly & Jessica Clark on their visits to the Cats’ Republic Café in St. Petersburg, Russia.)

PUBLISHED: January 29, 2015

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5 thoughts on “Russia’s first cat café: Cats’ Republic in St. Petersburg

  • A delightful piece, lovely photos! So wonderful to see another city adding a “Cat Cafe”, as cats are sooo special!

    • Devin Connolly

      Thank you! And yes…cats are fabulous. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Moscow gets their own cat cafe. A quick Google search indicates that they’re a bit behind the curve on this hot trend!

      • I think the people of Russia would enjoy seeing a Tennessee Rex cat or two in a cat cafe. The satin and curly fur has a very pleasant and unique feel. They are a freindly cat breed also.

  • Lisa Fletcher

    I have never heard of such a place. Cute and clever!

    • Devin Connolly

      Isn’t it great, Lisa? I can hardly wait to go back. I’m sure the “fe-lineup” will have changed considerably by the time I return.