Cat Cafés are Growing in Popularity: A Purrfect way to Make New Friends

cat cafe japan

If you happen to be traveling through Japan, while you are marveling at all the amazing sites but all of a sudden get a yen to cuddle with a kitty, put your mind at ease; there’s an abundance of cat cafés from which to choose. Not only can you quench your thirst with a delectable beverage, you can also have an up close and purrsonal connection with a clowder of cherished, friendly felines.

Even though cat cafes are flourishing in Japan, it was not the first country to open one of these feline-centered establishments. Taiwan opened their first cat café in 1998. After the brilliant idea of folks being able to combine the company of friendly cats while at the same time savoring the taste of their favorite coffee blend and socialize with one another was not not only accepted widely; the concept quickly went viral.

Apparently the cat-loving travelers who visited the original cat café in Taipei (Taiwan’s capital city), had so much they couldn’t stop talking about their experience. Their excitement opened the door for other cities around the world to open cat cafes. This helped to make these unique coffee houses a popular way to accommodate coffee- loving felinophiles.

But these establishments serve yet another important purpose. Cat lovers who live in rental apartments or houses that don’t allow pets on the premises get the opportunity to enjoy the company of felines, without worrying about losing their home. Should they break their rental agreement rules by sneaking a kitty into their dwelling, they could easily face eviction.

cat cafe Japan

Cat cafe at Shinjuku, Japan. Photo by Ari Helminen under creative commons license.

Due to the huge number of cat-crazy folks, in almost record time cat cafés began opening throughout Japan like wild fire, in cities such as Osaka and Tokyo. Not to be outdone, much to the delight of feline-worshippers, other Japanese cities started following suit, with cat cafés beginning to become rather commonplace.

But opening a cat café is not for the faint of heart. Although these cat cafés are in high demand, due to the stringent pet-protection laws in Japan, it makes the opening and operating of a feline-cafe establishment extremely frustrating. In order to comply with these regulations, owners of cat cafés are required to post a long list of rules and regulations to which their customers must adhere. There are even some cafés that prohibit customers from actually touching the cats. However, it’s acceptable for patrons to have a kitty on their lap if the cat is the one who makes the first overtures.

In Vienna, Neko (the Japanese word for cat) was the name of the first cat café to be opened in the city. But after the owner first applied for a license, it took three years for the authorities to grant her permission to open the establishment. The first five cats who were “employed”  were all adopted from a local animal shelter. Of course, since the patrons adored them and doted on them, naturally these rescued shelter kitties enjoyed a far greater quality of life.

According to the Huffington Post, there’s good Mews ahead for folks living in the United States. In the San Francisco Bay area two new cat cafés are being planned for the enjoyment of residents and tourist. The KitTea, located in San Francisco, will be colonizing the café with cats, by partnering with two shelters. The establishment will become a half-way home for adoptable cats. While a location has not yet been settled on, the owners are planning to make their cafe a place in which folks can interact and relax while enjoying the company of the kitties.

Cat Town will be opened in Oakland as an extension of Oakland’s Cat Town shelter. Although it has a heavy emphasis on adoption, everyone will be welcomed in for a free playtime with the kitties. Both of these cat cafes are scheduled to be opened sometime this year.

And Michael has told about Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium which has just opened in the East End of London, UK. We are told it opened on 1st March 2014. Although the Lady Dinah’s website indicates that it is not open yet. Please check. Apparently it took a lot of planning and preparation because, as mentioned, there are regulations to follow when you have domestic animals meandering around a café amongst the public. It has been well publicized and patronized. Michael promised me he’d visit and report on the experience.

How would you enjoy sipping a flavorful latte or your favorite blend of tea, sharing some human companionship with a cat purring happily on your lap? Tell us in a comment.


Facebook Discussion


Cat Cafés are Growing in Popularity: A Purrfect way to Make New Friends — 18 Comments

  1. I love this concept. Now we need them all over the USA. Although I am well cared for by my cats I do know other people that would benefit from one of these cafes. Thanks for a great article.

  2. Its SO hard to believe that new zealand is about the size of just one city or one state. lol Just so hard to believe that one city can be so huge. As im in a town its so hard to understand.

  3. Mixed feelings about free mingling.
    I would have some concerns about the safety of the cats, not so much for the patrons.
    I can only guess that the insurance costs are out of this world for free mingling.
    I better like a “banquet room” in the cafe where patrons can choose to enter, have food/beverages, interact with cats, and a small area for potential adoptee screenings.

  4. How about…tables in nicely “caged” areas each with 2 or 3 adoptable kitties that get along. People can get their kitty fixes; the kitties are in “doable” groups and people can choose which environment they enter and enjoy the kits. And heck yeah, it might even double as a dating environment as well as an adoption agency!

  5. If I were adrift and kittiless in a strange city, having a place to go have a hot drink and pet a kitty would be terribly important. There is an added benefit to cat lovers in visiting these places that also serve food and drinks. Nothing really seems refreshing or nourishing unless it has at least one cat hair in it…

    • Nice point Elisabeth. If I was living for a time in strange city I’d get a place near a cat cafe if it existed. My stress would be managed nicely and I’d have a decent chance of meeting someone who I could get on with. I wonder how good the cat cafe is as a dating agency? 😉

  6. Hmmmm….I’m a little split on this idea.

    Some cats love all people, some cats seem to have something against certain people or what about people that own cats… (i.e. what if you’re from out of town and come in for a kitty ‘fix’ and their kitties don’t like your kitties smell?) Are you going to leave with a nice bite on your leg? I guess a disclaimer of sorts would work, but I think an even BETTER idea would be kitties AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION in open play areas where people could go in and visit and possibly arrange to adopt and take them home at the end of their trip. 🙂

    • I have a feeling the cats are very carefully selected and they have a timeout area out the back where they can be themselves. I agree there are complications. You need someone on site who is a knowledgeable cat caretaker and what happens at night? Who changes the cat litter? And where is it? Etc.. I am not sure how many cats there are but if there are 6 or more that may pose “husbandry” problems in a commercial food outlet. I am sure it has all been carefully thought through combined with a decent insurance policy!

      • From some of the research I have been doing about Cat Cafes, I found that these cats are carefully chosen. I do hope that the folks who may be potential adopters are checked out as well. It could be dangerous for cats with folks who “pretend” to love kitties but have other ideas. So I am hopeful that all of this has been worked out.

        What I loved about all the Cat Cafes that I visited on line, and in the vast number of cat cafe photos uploaded to Flickr, were the shelves and “get away” resources throughout the establishments. They were wonderfully “catified”, and they should always be so designed.

    • I totally agree.In the near future I would love to have a Kitty Cafe to help with adopting out so many homeless cats.I think I would have a separate enclosed but visible area for people to venture in and an outside cafe area also. I have been thinking about this for years Jo. I will let you know when it happens 🙂

      • Carrie, I wish we lived much closer. It would be an honor to open one with you.

        Please do keep us posted with any plans you may have in the future. You would make an excellent “cafe” keeper.

  7. There is no reason why I can’t visit the London one and I will soon I hope. It is in Bethnal Green which is across London for me. It might as well be on the moon! Just joking, but it will take me probably about 90 mins at least to get there by public transport. I would say 2 hours in fact or more. That is a four hour round trip and I live in London 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.