Rescue cats don Santa suits for purrfect Korean Christmas

The Catgarden cafe itself has been hit this year by the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: REUTERS
A cat dressed in a Santa Claus costume naps beside a Christmas tree at a cat cafe in Seoul. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - What could be more endearing than a roomful of cats in red-and-white Santa costumes, each complete with a hood with a white bobble and a belt?

This holiday season, visitors to the cat cafe in Seoul can cuddle up with around 130 feline friends at tables decked out with tiny Christmas trees.

"Especially this year, it is hard to feel the festive atmosphere, but it was great to see cute cats wearing Santa suits and feel like Christmas is nearing," said 22-year-old visitor Cha Seung-Ju.

Ms Park Seo-young opened the Catgarden cafe in 2016 to take in cats rescued off the streets or that were the subjects of failed adoptions, a situation that has worsened this year.

The number of abandoned pets increased by about 3.7 per cent in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

"With many people staying at home, more people are adopting cats. But at the same time, more people abandon pets as the coronavirus situation worsens," said Ms Park.

"Whenever I hear about such news, it really hurts me," Ms Park added, urging those who adopt cats to take responsibility for them for their entire lives.

The Catgarden cafe itself has been hit this year by the coronavirus pandemic. The cafe used to have about 100 visitors a day, but that has recently dropped by about a third.

Visitors lucky enough to drop by during snack time get to interact with a long queue of cats feeding in the front yard, and some said that the furry animals helped them shake off the "corona blues".

An employee dressed in a Santa Claus costume feeds cats at the Catgarden in Seoul, on Dec 14, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

A special feast is on the cards for the feline Santas over the festive period.

"On Christmas Day, I'm having a chicken breast party for my cats," Ms Park said.

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