You're not reading this incorrectly. Today Japlanning are looking at the amazing cafés that you'll probably only ever see in Japan: Cat Cafés.
What did you say? A cat café? You. Eat Cat??? No! Don't be crazy! Cat cafés are a café where you can buy time to enjoy the company of the fury four legged kind.
Here is a café culture very unique to Japan, where people can come and pay by the hour to visit the café, have a drink, a meal and be surrounded by up to 50 cats that live there. There are many of these cafés around Japan, with over 30 in Tokyo alone. Some have specific themes, such as only black cats, or fat cats, or all the cats are rescues or strays. These café’s are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
Most cafés celebrate each cats birthday, and the cats all have their own devoted fans who visit several times a week, just to see their favorite little kitty. People spend hours here, and in case you get sick of the cats, they have an extensive library of manga comics for you to read up on. While you're there, for as little as 200 yen, you can purchase some chicken pieces to feed the cats as well. Although, a word of warning: be prepared to be mobbed by cats if you do; they recognise the containers instantly, and suddenly you become the greatest person ever to dozens of cats, all vying for your attention.
It seems that the Japanese have found a great way for people to connect with animals, where many just can't have their own in their homes as most landlords prohibit animals, and finding a place that will let you have a pet usually comes with a high price tag. So in 2004, a cat lover back decided to open a café where people could come and sit and play with the resident cats, relax, have a small meal or drink, and escape the hectic world outside, all while getting that fix of having a pet to love without having to pay the high costs of the rare apartments that allow a pet. This first café, Neko No Mise opened in Osaka, and many more quickly followed. It has become a booming subset to the traditional café industry.
The popularity of these café’s and their loveable residents seems like a phenomenon of modern times. Many patrons make the cafés their office for the day, working from their laptops, or even just "calling in sick" to spend the day with their feline friends instead. The café’s are definitely more popular with females, making up 75% of the patronage at most cafés, however many women will drag their boyfriends along to feel second best to their cat friends. The jealous doesn’t hang about too much, it’s really hard to stay mad while surrounded by such cute kitties! They have become so popular that a quick Google search will bring you many Japanese blogs on cat café cats, littered with スーパー かわいい (supa kawaii, that’s "super cute" in Japanese) pics of their favorite cats!
And don’t be too worried that these cats are being exploited or not cared for. Once you step into the café, you will see who they were really built for: scratching posts, cat beds, toys and boxes as far as the eye can see! All the seats for humans are low to the floor, making it easy for the cats to get around. These cats are spoilt! Most café’s have very strict rules for patrons too, keeping the cats best interests in mind.
- You can’t harass the cats.
- You can’t wake up any sleeping kitties
- You can’t pick them up (Don’t worry they will come to you and make themselves at home in your lap)
- The cats can’t be held against their will (if they want to go - let them)
Most cafés are only open till 10pm, and don’t open until late in the morning, giving the residents plenty of downtime to rest. You will even find that in the evenings they will dim the lights, so the cats can nap more easily.
On our visits to Japan, we always make a stop at one of the most famous cat cafés in Japan: The Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku, Tokyo, which is one of the most popular cafés in the country with over 50 cats residing there.
When you arrive, you will be given a locker for your belongings and shoes, and sent along to the cleaning station, where you will wash your hands and sanitise them, so you're all ready for the cats. Then you can enter the café.
Calico is two stories, with seating, cat toys and scratching poles everywhere. Even as you go down the stairs to the lower level there are little shelves set up like cat stations down the walls, for the cats to sleep or jump up and around on. Each day Calico has a "cat of the day" that they show off with their best pictures. Whenever there is a cats birthday, they will let you know and have a poster up wishing them a happy birthday.
They also have books around, in both Japanese and English, which list every cat, their breed, a picture, their name and age. In case you fall in love with a particular cat, you can know its breed and get one back home!
Food and drinks are quite cheap, starting at 200 yen for a soft drink or coffee, to 500 - 800 yen for a light meal / snack. There are menus all around and the café, and staff are always around and attentive if you need anything at all.
Check below for plenty more pics of this Kawaii Kitties!
Calico is located on the sixth floor at 1-16-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku 160-0021, Japan. Kabukicho is a major road in Shinjuku also known as the Yasukuni Dori. You'll find it a few shops down from the giant Don Quixote shop. Look for their sign on the street level.
Official site: http://catcafe.jp (In Japanese)