I own two cats, Celeste and “Fat Cat” Freedom. They have been with my family since about 2001 and have been a fun part of my family ever since. Celeste is a feisty cat, always wanting to play and running around like crazy. Touch her tail, and she will “attack”. Freedom, on the other hand, is more docile, cuddling up next to you and demanding that you pet her.
Now, would you pay to pet these cats while you sip on a hot chai? Or how about a nice, relaxing herbal? Maybe some green tea?
People around the world are picking up on the trend of cat cafes, where patrons come and either pay by the hour or pay for their meal and as they dine, play with cats.
The trend started in Taiwan where the first Cat Cafe opened in Taipei in 1998, where many apartment buildings ban having pets. As a result, people do not get the joys of having cuddly companionship while they sip their tea.
However, the Cat Cafe changed this, hosting cats and tea for paying patrons. The idea became a fast hit, including for those visiting from Japan. Who doesn’t like a cuddly cat with them while they sip their tea?
One of the more popular cat cafes in Japan, the Calico Cafe in Tokyo, soon opened in March 2007. Their cafe hosts about 20 cats with over 17 different breeds. Patrons take off their shoes, sanitize their hands, place personal items in a locker, and rub their faces in the soft fur of their purring friends. Toys are strewn about the cafe so that you can play and try to lure the cats into your laps in order to pet them while you drink your tea. The cafes advertise themselves as a great place for friends, dates, and just a nice place to swing by. After all, in an area where you cannot have cats in your apartment, why not take a sweetheart to have a cuppa and a cat?
Cat cafes in Japan are very strict, however. Of course, there is the concern for health regulations. Having an animal in a cafe while you eat can be an issue. Then there is also the safety of the animal. Often, there is a long list of rules and regulations when entering one of these cafes, ranging from not being able to pet the cat at all unless the cat initiates contact to not bringing in outside food and catnip.
The trend started growing, spreading to Vienna, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Seoul. In Canada, you can even adopt one of these cuddly creatures at their Small Things cafe.
Many of the cafes will use cats from shelters or cats that were once homeless or abandoned, serving a humanitarian effort as well as a good cuppa with a unique atmosphere.
So, if you are traveling abroad and miss your feline friend, make sure that you Google “cat cafes” and see if you could grab a cup of tea and a cute kitty as well.