Long before the advent of the cat café, Hong Kong’s businesses have employed “cat shopkeepers” (貓店長; maau1 dim3 jeung2), who provide valuable company, pest control, and even customers to their carers. While Sheung Wan’s traditional dried seafood shops are known for their shop cats, who are believed to bring good luck, there are plenty of friendly felines prowling around coffee shops, boutiques, and dry cleaners all across the city. Read on to discover some of our favorite shop cats in Hong Kong!
Mui Mui at Chiu Kee Metal Works
Despite what its name may suggest, Sheung Wan’s famous Cat Street (which is technically called Upper Lascar Row) is not known for being a cat lover’s paradise. However, if you find yourself among the colourful knickknacks and kitschy Mao memorabilia on Cat Street on a cool autumn day, you may catch a glimpse of a grey tabby patrolling the perimeter around Chiu Kee Metal Works on the corner of Upper Lascar Row and Tung Street.
This six-year-old British shorthair cat is called Mui Mui, and draws just as many visitors to the shop as Chiu Kee’s selection of antique-style Chinese brass drawer pulls and door knockers. Mui Mui is on the shy side when it comes to strangers, so while she will accept a pat or two, do resist the urge to pinch her adorable chubby cheeks.
Chiu Kee Metal Works, 23 Tung Street, Sheung Wan |
Charlie at Elixir
While Hong Kong has its share of cat cafés, no one has the time to visit one whenever the mood to pat a moggy strikes. Squeeze in your morning joe and a fun cat encounter at Elixir, a stylish Sheung Wan café on a ladder street between Gough Street and Hollywood Road.
While the café’s capable barista is a dab hand at brewing coffee, her one-year-old cat, Charlie, is often at his most playful and needy during the morning coffee rush—so feel free to distract him with his trusty feather toy while you wait for your order.
Elixir, 9 Mee Lun Street, Central
琪琪 and George at Hop’s Handbag
If you pass through the bustling market streets of Li Yuen Street East and West (a.k.a. the “Ladies’ Market of Central”) enough, there’s a good chance you’ll see a curious cat here and there. There’s a mix of strays and shop cats around the area, though the most famous ones by far are the two resident cats at Hop’s Handbag, a bag and suitcase shop on Li Yuen Street West that’s been around for over 40 years. 琪琪 (Kei4 Kei1), the ginger and white girl, can often be found lounging on top of suitcases or weaving between customers’ legs, while her brother, a rotund dark tabby named George, prefers to hang out among the racks of secondhand clothing at Mee & Gee, the “$5 thrift store” next door. Both are supremely friendly and affectionate, and will reward pats and scratches with loud, enthusiastic purring.
Hop’s Handbag Co., G/F, 11 Li Yuen Street West, Central
金金 and 白白 at Dundas Restaurant
While some shops are relatively nonchalant about their cats, Dundas Restaurant in Yau Ma Tei is not—the cha chaan teng (茶餐廳; Hong Kong-style tea restaurant) is decorated with customer-contributed paintings of its two cats—金金 (gam1 gam1) and 白白 (bak6 bak6), whose names roughly translate to Goldie and Whitey—as well as classic movie posters which have been Photoshopped to include the devilishly cute duo. The pair are also featured prominently on the menus and even in the pattern of the seat cushions!
One of the restaurant’s staff found the pair, along with four other kittens, in an abandoned box at a nearby park when they were just a few days old. While the staff were able to find homes for four of the cats with relative ease, Goldie and Whitey—who were recovering from a ruptured spleen and eye infection, respectively—went unclaimed for months. Eventually, Dundas’ manager decided to make them official cha chaan teng cats, and they can now be found cuddling together in the restaurant, playing with customers, or sunbathing outside.
Dundas Restaurant, 105 Portland Street, Yau Ma Tei