Cat Cafés in Japan

For many people about the world, the dog is man’s best friend. However, in Japan, things are pretty different. The crowded streets of cities like Tokyo and Osaka mean that keeping any pet can be very difficult, let alone exercising an animal like a dog. Furthermore, apartments and rented accommodations forbid the keeping of pets in many of Japan’s cities: this is where cat cafés come in, people just hire a cat for an hour or two.

Although cat cafés started in Taiwan, they have become very popular across Japan. Tokyo alone has some 40 such establishments, while the likes of Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo all have their own cat cafés. Perhaps the rise of the internet has contributed towards this phenomenon. Japan has many famous internet cats, including Maru (famous for his love of boxes) and Shiro (known as the Zen Master of cats).

What happens when you walk into a cat café may vary. There may be only specific breeds, or the café may only have a particular colour of cat. Each place is unique, but they all tend to have the same basic rules. Despite the apparent dissonance between a culture that values cleanliness and the presence of animals in an eatery, the cafés are tightly regulated with strict health and safety governance.

Photo Credit: sprklg

Photo Credit: sprklg

Individuals visiting a cat café can do two things: have something to eat and drink, and make a fuss of the resident felines. There is usually a charge for the privilege, depending on how long you stay. Many charge per half-hour period. Food and drink are extra as well. Bringing your own food for the cats is usually forbidden, as is supplying catnip. Instead, you can buy snacks or treats for the cats from the café staff.

There also rules of etiquette regarding interacting with the cats. Visitors must not try to stroke or interact with a cat who is not interested, or who becomes upset by the unwanted attention. Waking up a sleeping cat is also prohibited.

Tokyo has many cat cafés, including Neko JaLaLa in Akihabara, Calico’s in Shinjyuku prefecture, and, further out, Café Neko no Mise in Machida. The city of Kyoto is home to Café Marumari (located near the Teramachi arcade) and Cat Café Nekokaigi (near Kyoto Shiyakushomae station). In Osaka’s Shinsaibashi district is Neko no Jikan, while the Cat Time Café is located in the Kita-ku ward of the city.

Author Bio

Catherine is a writer for a backpacking blog.

2 Responses to “Cat Cafés in Japan”

  1. sasksak  on October 22nd, 2013

    i sooo want to do this!!

  2. Shani  on November 13th, 2013

    So funny!! I can rent out my two cats!! :)

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