Cat cafes don’t have enough cats for you? Want to see what life is like when you adopt a hundred cats? Then Goyangi Jeongwon (고양이 전원 – literally ‘cat garden’ but often called Cat Lover Garden) is the place for you. This garden, located on the edge of Seoul, is quite literally overrun with cats and is a fantastic place for anyone who loves felines.
While I often see Cat Garden compared to cat cafes, it really feels quite different. Not only are drinks not involved (those come in later), but most of the area is outdoors. Further, the garden seconds as a cat-adoption agency if you happen to fall in love with a particular cat. Really, this is a cafe by name only.
Now, before I begin: I know that there is a lot of controversy surrounding animal cafes and the ethical and moral issues of such places. However, I honestly believe that the Cat Garden is the most animal-friendly establishment out of all of the ‘animal cafes’ that I have visited while in Seoul.
While there are a ton of cats in a relatively small and enclosed space who are constantly being visited by a large number of people, the cats have a lot of freedom. Not only do they actually have a decent outdoor and indoor space to explore, but they also have cat-only areas that they can use when they need a break.
Further, since Cat Garden also operates as an adoption agency I think there’s another aspect to consider. Compared to the animal adoption agencies that I have visited, Cat Garden is infinitely nicer. Animal adoption services do their best, but often funding becomes an issue. Since Cat Garden is first and foremost a business, they have the money to give the cats a nice home.
What I am trying to say is that if you like cats but worry about the conditions at cat cafes in Seoul, Cat Garden might be a better alternative. The money you spend is going towards improving the conditions for the cats and allowing more cats to find adoption. The cats are able to take a break when needed, and they have a relatively diverse environment to enjoy.
This is reflected in something else that I noticed while at the cafe – the cats seem to be much more friendly and approachable than at many of the cat cafes that I have visited. While they are still cats (and hence treat you as their servant/underling and often couldn’t give you a second thought), we had at least 20 cats come and check us out when we visited. Further, 4 or 5 of them came and sat down right next to us. Willingly I might add.
As an introvert myself I can understand the social drain of seeing too many people and getting too much attention… Exactly what many cats face at cat cafes. This often results in angry felines or cats that couldn’t care less about you. At Cat Garden, the cats felt much calmer and they were more friendly because of the better environment.
With that (rather lengthy) introduction out of the way, in this article, I would like to introduce 고양이 전원 – otherwise known as Cat Lover Garden or Cat Garden. I will cover everything I consider pertinent here, including the location, cost, atmosphere, menu, and more. I hope you get the chance to visit Cat Garden!
However, if you’ve already visited please feel free to comment on this post. How was your experience? What did you think of the garden? I’d love to hear from you!
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|Gaehwasan Branch||서울특별시 강서구 개화동로19길 18 (개화동 559-49)|
|Gangwha Branch||인천광역시 강화군 선원면 연동로162번길 21 (연리 707-1)|
Currently there are two locations for Cat Lover Garden. While I have not visited the second location, from images and reviews online it appears that both branches are similar in what they offer.
The two locations are in Gaehwa (개와점) and Ganghwa (강화점). The Ganghwa location is located near Incheon, close to Incheon International Airport. The Gaehwa location, on the other hand, is located near Gimpo International Airport in Seoul.
Since I visited the Gaehwa branch (in Seoul) and I imagine that is where most people will be visiting, this article will focus on that branch. While Cat Lover Garden is located a bit out of Seoul, it’s not difficult to reach.
To reach Cat Lover Garden at Gaehwa you will need to take Line 5 (Purple Line) towards Gimpo International Airport. If you are heading out of the city, proceed one stop past Gimpo Airport and get off the train at Gaehwasan.
Once at Gaehwasan Station exit the station via Exit 2. Directly outside the station is a crosswalk that crosses the road. Cross here and then turn left. This will take you to a main road which will turn to the right. Follow this gradual turn to the right and follow the main road’s footpath.
On the first right turn off the main road, you should see a fire station. Proceed past this fire station and follow the road as it turns left. Just 30 metres or so down the road you should see the garden locations on the right!
All in all, reaching Cat Lover Garden from the closest station should take only 5-10 minutes. However, getting to Gaehwasan Station can take a bit longer as it is quite out of the way for most people. With that being said, it’s a trip that’s well worth it!
Cost & Hours
Cat Lover Garden is open every day of the year with no exceptions. This is listed on their official website and they make note of the fact that they are open every day. Their hours are slightly longer on public holidays and weekends.
On weekdays the garden opens from 12:30 (noon) and closes at 10 pm. On weekends and public holidays the garden opens two hours earlier and opens its doors from 10am to 10pm. However, the big difference between weekdays and weekends/public holidays is that the latter has a two hour time limit.
They do also note on their website that in the future they will move to a reservation-only system. This is most likely due to the massive popularity of the garden (it’s VERY popular!). Luckily, this system is not currently in place as of the time of writing.
It is a very popular place, however, so expect it to be quite crowded at times. The garden tends to be packed on weekends and public holidays, but it’s still quite busy on weekdays. For the least crowds I would recommend visiting as close to opening time as possible (or visit later nearer to closing time).
|Children (13 months – 7 years)||8000KRW|
|Children (7 years – 18 years)||10,000KRW|
Regarding the cost: Children from 13 months to 7 years old cost 8000KRW, children from elementary, middle and highschool cost 10,000KRW and everyone above costs 12,000KRW. Children from elementary school and younger must have a supervisor. Further, elementary/middle/highschool students must bring ID (presumably to verify their age).
This cost includes entry and a ready-to-go beverage when you leave. When you decide to leave you are able to choose a drink from the fridge/heater. There are a range of cold and hot drinks including all of the names you would expect – Coca Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, etc. On top of this, you can also get a heated (canned) coffee from brands such as Starbucks.
These drinks are definitely not barista level, and it shows that Cat Lover Garden isn’t really a ‘cat cafe’. Rather, it’s a cat garden that has an entrance fee… More alike a zoo than a cafe. However, you do get to choose a drink as a bonus when you leave.
With the entrance fee you will also get a few bonuses. Every customer can take a mat and place it where they want (provided there is space) and there are also boxes for everyone to take. These boxes will increase your chances of attracting a box-loving cat. When we visited everyone also got some catnip to use as they please.
There are also a few other additions that you can pay for. For example, you can purchase cat food for 4000KRW or a cat toy for a couple of thousand won. These aren’t essential, but they may enhance your experience.
Garden & Cafe
Cat Lover Garden is divided into two distinct parts – the indoor cafe and the outdoor garden. These areas are attached to each other and it’s easy to move from one to the other… Regardless of whether you are human or cat!
The indoor area (the cafe) feels much like a typical cat cafe. There are a few different tables as well as a play area for the cats. People can also sit on the floor in this area if they want, but most people will sit at the tables.
The cafe gradually merges with the garden and there is a nice deck area in the middle. This area has a bit of cover from the elements but also has some sunshine and a nice breeze making it ideal for people who don’t want to be fully indoors or outdoors.
Cat Lover Garden is aptly named as it also features a decently sized garden. This garden is divided into two main areas, ‘downstairs’ and ‘upstairs’. Although it might sound a bit silly, the garden is quite literally divided into two parts by a staircase in the centre.
The bottom of the garden is where the cafe is located. There are some tables in this area as well as some houses for the cats. Upstairs is quite different, and while there are some tables available the majority of the seating is provided via picnic mats.
In the garden, you will find a variety of different objects. There is a range of towers and walkways for the cats and there is even a water feature with a nice fountain. Behind the cafe, you will find a range of beds for the cats as well as their escape area for when they are done interacting with people.
The atmosphere is often what lets animal cafes down. I often find that either the animals seem unhappy or the cafe feels (or smells…) unclean. Both of these factors can make the atmosphere quickly drag down the overall feeling of the cafe or just make me end up feeling sad.
Luckily, Cat Lover Garden definitely does not encounter the first issue. The cats were active and generally seemed to be enjoying life. Of course, there were some outliers but when you bring 100 (give or take) cats together, you’re bound to get some who are having a bad day!
Many of the cats were very active and moving around the garden constantly. Some of the cats were moving from group to group trying to steal all of the catnip, some were enjoying the boxes on offer and others were happily sitting in laps.
Cat Lover Garden is also about as clean as I can possibly imagine it being. With such a large amount of animals in the space, there is bound to be lots of fur and some smells and such from the cat’s bathrooms. However, the majority of the cats seemed to be well trained and nearly everything was contained in the litter areas (with the exception of one cat – more on that later).
Therefore, while the indoor and outdoor areas weren’t the cleanest, they are about as good as you can expect from such a business. It’s fair to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness and overall maintenance of Cat Lover Garden.
One thing that I did notice, however, is that Cat Lover Garden looked a lot more lush in photos. I have seen photos from the garden appearing in my Instagram feed for months, and the garden has always looked very pretty and green. However, when we visited the ground was almost entirely dirt.
I’m not sure if this is due to the season (we visited in winter) or due to the large number of people trampling on the grass and killing it. While it wasn’t the biggest deal, the photos I had seen of the garden before visiting definitely looked more appealing than the garden did in actuality.
Despite saying that, the garden did have a nice atmosphere. Especially on a day when the weather is nice, it’s fantastic to be able to spend the afternoon under the sun with a massive variety of different cats walking around and wanting to spend time with you!
While it is up to the cats to decide on whether or not they want to interact with you, nearly every group in the garden had a cat (or two… or a few) when we visited. Since the staff gives catnip and boxes to everybody for no additional cost, there are always some inquisitive cats coming over to visit. There are also a few who just want to smuggle catnip.
As you have hopefully guessed by now, Cat Lover Garden has about a million cats. There are big cats, small cats, friendly cats, shy cats, and every kind of cat in-between. Overall the cats seemed to be quite content in the garden and they were far more active than the cats I have met at cat cafes.
Of course, there are always some cats having a bad day. Surprisingly, only one cat fight broke out while we were there. Considering just how many cats call the garden home, I thought this was quite impressive. Perhaps the highlight of our visit though was watching a cat *ahem* spray over a family sitting next to us.
Despite there being a mother, father, and daughter all sharing a single mat, the rather miffed cat missed everyone (luckily I might add). When paying we did get a warning about potential ‘projectiles’ but I didn’t really expect to actually witness such an event.
There are also some cats with collars. These collars are used as an identification system for potentially troublesome (read aggressive) cats. These cats seemed far from troublesome, however, and one of the collared cats came and took over our mat much to our worry. He did allow us to share though, and he turned out to be quite friendly (at least to humans).
The cats in the garden come in an incredible range of different varieties. I’m not certain as to how the cafe obtains its cats, but since many of them are up for adoption I assume that a large portion was abandoned or without a home. Due to this, the range of cats is quite incredible!
All of the felines appear well-fed and some of them are almost learning towards being chubby (or, in cat terms, chonky). There is a lot of staff present at the cafe to not only ensure the welfare of the cats but to also play with them and give them some love.
If you’re interested in learning more about the cats themselves there is actually a whole page on the Cat Lover Garden website dedicated to showing off every cat. While the pages are in Korean, you can see some basic info about each cat along with some pictures and a description.
Cat Lover Garden – Worth a Visit?
To put this simply, it’s in the name. Are you a cat lover? If so, then Cat Lover Garden is worth a visit. If you are someone who loves cats but perhaps isn’t able to have a pet due to your housing rules then this is the best place to get your cat-fix. There are a lot of cats, the garden is nice, and the cats seem happy.
The price is a bit higher than most cat cafes considering that you only get a canned/bottled beverage. However, I justified this to myself by remembering that this garden doubles as an adoption facility. Further, there are a ton of staff and they really do seem to enjoy their jobs and care for the cats. For these reasons, I was happy to pay more.
The two-hour time limit on weekends and public holidays may be an issue for some people. If you see yourself wanting to stay longer then consider visiting on a weekday if possible. I found two hours to be enough, but I can definitely understand wanting to stay longer!
Further, if you live in Korea and you are wanting to get a feline friend then why not consider visiting Cat Lover Garden? While not all cats are up for adoption, there are some that need homes. The garden provides a great way to interact with potential friends before making any commitments.
If you’ve read through this article and find yourself still having some questions please feel free to comment down below. While I may not be able to answer everything, I will do my best to help wherever possible!
Cat Lover Garden FAQ
How Much Does Entry Cost?
The entry fee is 12,000KRW for anyone over the age of 18. Children from 13 months old to seven years old cost 8000KRW while children between seven and 18 years old cost 10,00KRW.
Where Is Cat Lover Garden?
Cat Lover Garden’s Seoul branch is located at Gaehwasan Station on Line 5 (Purple line). The address is 서울특별시 강서구 개화동로19길 18 (개화동 559-49).
What Is the Address of Cat Lover Garden?
The address of Cat Lover Garden in Seoul is 서울특별시 강서구 개화동로19길 18 (개화동 559-49). The Incheon branch can be found at 인천광역시 강화군 선원면 연동로162번길 21 (연리 707-1).
Is Cat Lover Garden Normally Busy?
Yes! This garden is normally busy. If you are looking to avoid the crowds try to avoid visiting on weekends or public holidays.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Cat Lover Garden?
If you are looking for the least busy time I would recommend trying to visit as soon as the cafe opens (12:30 on weekdays and 10:30 on weekends).
How Many Cats Are at Cat Lover Garden?
Currently there are around 100 cats in the garden.
Are the Cats Friendly?
Of course, this depends upon the cat in question. However, we found that the majority of the cats are very happy and friendly. They are more than happy to come and meet you!