What’s Cat Cafe? 7 Interesting Tips About Neko Cafe!

What's Cat Cafe? 7 Interesting Tips About Neko Cafe!

I sometimes worry that people abroad might think we Japanese are all quite insane, not least of all when I think of phenomena such as neko cafes (cat cafes). I mean, it does seem odd that people would be willing to pay to sit around and watch cats, doesn’t it? But perhaps there’s method in this madness that escapes me. Let’s find out.



 

What’s Cat Cafe? 7 Interesting Tips About Neko Cafe!

 

1. What is a Cat Cafe?

If you imagine, as I did, cats sitting around tables, sipping mocha blend and nibbling madeleines, think again. That’s not it at all. A cat café is a kind of themed attraction where cats can be watched at play or at meal times, or otherwise interacted with by paying human patrons. For a typically hourly cover fee, cat cafés offer the chance to pet cats under expert supervision.

 

2. A Worldwide Phenomenon

Actually, I’m pleased to say cat cafés are not a Japanese idea. Taiwan’s ‘Cat Flower Garden’ was probably the first. Opened in 1998, it soon attracted the attention of Japanese tourists who then took the idea back to Japan. However, there are now cat cafés in over 20 countries worldwide. Tokyo itself has around 40 cat cafés.

 

3. The Tokyo Scene

Most of Tokyo’s cat cafés are organised like comfy lounges with sofas, complementary slippers and rest areas for patrons to sit and enjoy cat watching in peace while enjoying coffee or other refreshments. Some, like Temari no Ouchi in Kichijōji have whimsically designed interiors to create a fairytale atmosphere. Others, such as Neko Maru Café in Ueno, have dedicated, regularly updated blogs so that patrons can keep up with their favourite kitties’ life events online at home. What they all offer is relaxed cat-centred cuteness.

 

4. Cats are Good for People!

The popularity of cat cafés and, indeed, the newer rabbit cafés, has a lot less to do with the national obsession for cuteness or the rise in popular (?) culture of Hello Kitty than you might think. The fact is, most people live in small apartments where keeping pets is either prohibited or impractical. Similarly, many people live alone and perhaps lack the kind of companionship a pet can provide. In this way, cat cafés provide a useful service.

 

5. People are Good for Cats!

Fortunately, cat cafés tend to be owned and operated by cat lovers, and they must be strictly licensed and regulated under Japan’s Animal Treatment and Protection Law. You won’t find any mixed cat and rabbit cafés on offer, as appealing as that may sound. Seriously though, cat cafés are not known for cruelty. In fact, they help to raise awareness of cat welfare, especially the sad plight of thousands of cats abandoned to the streets every year, some of which come to the cat cafés from animal shelters. But if you get scratched, well there are just some people that cats don’t like; don’t take it personally!

 

6. Cat Café Etiquette

Of course, getting scratched won’t be too much of a problem as you’ll have been obliged to sterilise your hands when you entered the cat café, which is as much for the cats’ protection as your own. Everything is done to ensure the welfare of the cats, and all patrons have to do is remember that and relax to get the most out of the experience. Apart from hygiene, the only real rule is that the cat café cats are not disturbed, say by disobedient or boisterous children, especially when sleeping.

 

7. What to Pay

With some 40 Tokyo cat cafés to choose from, you can be sure to find one in most areas of the city and there are several web sites in English listing them. However, prices vary greatly from place to place. However, ¥1000 per hour with reduced rates for additional periods would seem to be the average.

 

Conclusion

Everyone loves cats, well, most people, even me, and Tokyo’s cat cafés certainly seem the perfect place to go when you’re in need of feline companionship to break up the monotony and isolation of modern urban life. But even visitors may enjoy our themed cat cafés when the weather’s too wet for regular sightseeing. Many cat cafés have English guidance too, though sadly few Japanese cats understand English!

 

What’s Cat Cafe? 7 Interesting Tips About Neko Cafe!

1. What is a Cat Cafe?
2. A Worldwide Phenomenon
3. The Tokyo Scene
4. Cats are Good for People!
5. People are Good for Cats!
6. Cat Café Etiquette
7. What to Pay