Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun Places for Cat Lovers to Visit

Sign outside Hello Kitty theme park
By Julia Williams

This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me even slightly: I have a “cat-themed” bucket list. What might that be, you ask? Well, it’s a detailed list of all the cat-themed places I want to visit before my demise. Lest you think that would be a really short list, I assure you it isn’t. There are, in fact, so many fabulous feline-inspired things to see worldwide, that I would need to live (at least) several hundred years to cross them all off.

The wildly popular cat-obsessed blog, Catsparella, only contributed to my longing by featuring some purrfect pussycat travel destinations in a series of great posts called Around the World in 80 Cats. Every day for months I salivated worse than Pavlov’s Dog, and sulked that my pink leopard suitcase and I wouldn’t be heading to the airport any time soon. Here are just a few of the feline-themed destinations on my bucket list:

Hello Kitty boat ride
Hello Kitty Theme Park: Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo

It takes a special kind of bravery for a middle-aged woman to admit that she (still) likes Hello Kitty. But I do. And despite the fact that the target audience for Sanrio Puroland is 3-6 year olds, I would go there in a heartbeat, and I would have a wonderful time. Never mind that the reviews on Trip Advisor range from “Every Hello Kitty fan’s dream come true” to “A complete waste of time and money.” Besides, Wikipedia claims that “the park has become one of Japan's most popular attractions.” So there! The park is run by the Sanrio company, creators of Hello Kitty, and features live musicals, restaurants, attractions, parades, fireworks and rides, including an “It’s a Small World” type boat ride. For diehard Kitty fans, the extensive gift shop offerings alone would be worth the trip.

Catskill, New York:  Cat n’ Around Festival

Yes, it makes perfect sense that a tiny town called Catskill would find a way to celebrate the divine feline. Every summer since 2007, 40+ fiberglass cats take up residence along Catskill’s Historic Main Street, adding a healthy dose of charm to an already quaint place. The larger-than-life decorative cat statues are handmade by local artists, and each year there is a new, original litter. The kitties are on display from May to September, and then auctioned off to raise money for charity. I became aware of this unique cat-themed travel destination a few years ago after it was featured on the awesome – but alas, short lived – TV show Must Love Cats. I can’t think of a better reason to visit upstate New York, can you?

The Kuching Cat Museum in Malaysia

Kuching Cat Museum entrance
What’s a metropolis to do when their very name means Cat City? Pay homage to the venerable feline with cat statues everywhere, of course. But why stop there? Kuching didn’t, and their one-of-a-kind Cat Museum has become a must-see attraction for feline fans worldwide. Inaugurated in 1993, the museum features 2000+ feline exhibits, artifacts, art, photographs, statues, stamps, posters and – perhaps most intriguing of all – a mummified Egyptian cat dating back to 3500 BC! The museum is much more than just a collection of cat memorabilia, however; it’s also a research center devoted to exploring the rich cultural history of our feline friends.

The Hemingway Home/Museum in Key West, Florida 

Cat chillaxing at Hemingway Home
The former home of Ernest Hemingway is a must-see destination for literary types, who enjoy checking out the rooms and gardens where the celebrated American author lived and wrote for more than 10 years. But cat lovers find the place just as enchanting, thanks to 40-50 felines that have full roaming privileges. Legend has it that a ship’s captain gave Hemingway a white polydactyl (six toed) cat named Snowball, who became the first of many felines to win his heart. Although some say that never actually happened, the museum’s tour guides diligently keep the legend alive, so that the hordes of cat fans keep coming.

Cat inside the Hemingway home
Also on my cat-themed bucket list: lots more Hello Kitty madness including a Sweet Shop in Taipei, Taiwan, a Beauty Spa in Dubai, and Harmonyland, another Sanrio theme park on the island of Kyushu;  a visit to “Station Master Tama” (a calico cat) on the Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan; the tiny Pacific Ocean island of Tashirojima (aka Cat Island), where felines outnumber humans; the Cat Boat, a floating animal sanctuary in Amsterdam; the cat-themed train station and cat-shaped bridge in Taipei; and the  Festival of the Cats in the Belgian town of Ypres.

Have you ever been to any of these places?

Hello Kitty photos courtesy of Catsparella
Kuching Cat Museum courtesy of
Hemingway Home photos by James Willamor

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. I haven't been to any of these but Hemingway's would have to be tops on my list!
    Since I am not a fan at all of Hello Kitty, I would pass on that one, but the others sound interesting, especially the one in Malaysia!

  2. One of the Colehaus Cats top secret wishes is to bring one of the Hemmingway cats home here...which is probably why our mom and dad have never visited the Hemmingway Home. Every piece of baggage would need to be checked along with every purse, pocket and sleeve!

  3. My Dad and Mom have visited the Hemingway cats. Have a nice weekend!!!

  4. That is one great post. Who knew there were so many cat places to visit. I sure would like to see the Hemingway place. I would love to see all those cats but all those places seems like a fun thing to do. Don't think I will ever get there but it is great fun hearing about them.

  5. We'd love to see the Hello Kitty theme park. We do plan to go to Japan someday, so we'll be sure to work it in to our itinerary. The Catskill Cat n' Around Festival and the Hemingway Cats are much closer, and we'd like to see those, too! :)

    Have a nice weekend!

  6. Now the mom is adding all those places to her bucket list! :)

  7. Well Mom has been to the Key West cat place - it was fun!

    cats of wildcat woods

  8. Wow ! my mom will love to go to all those places !!!
    mom has been in Japan once but at that time, she was 10 and didn't know she is a cat pawson yet. so she didn't go to Sanrio Puroland but disneyland. Seen the mousies instead ; )

  9. A great bucket list. Would love to see them all but particularly the Hemingway home!!!

  10. Hysterical! Do one for dog-lovers!

  11. Julia - I would be more than happy to pack my leopard suitcase and go to the Hello Kitty park with you! I have been to Hemingway house and really enjoyed it and I used to live near the Catskills, but unfortunately I moved to Florida before I could visit the fiberglass cats!

  12. The next time I teleport over to visit Tutu, maybe I'll check out the Malaysia Place. The Human would like to see the Hemingway house--not only does she luff the extra toes, but she's an English teacher too.


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