Cat Cafes: Unique Feline Focused Businesses in Japan

Every city has a go-to coffee shop or cafe where residents of the area can feel at home. These cafes tend to offer customers a relaxing atmosphere, delicious food and drink, and even free internet. These offerings are all well and good for the typical coffee shop customer, but what if you could go to a coffee shop that offered all of the above, plus the chance to visit with adorable felines? Japan is home to several Cat Cafes that offer just that.

Cat Cafes are small businesses that allow people to visit with the resident cats for a small fee. These cafes started popping up around 2006, and today there are about 79 Cat Cafes all over Japan. Generally, these establishments charge by the hour ranging from about $7 to $10 per hour, with fees increasing on weekends and holidays. In addition to cats, the cafes also offer visitors food and drink, computers, books, and video games.

The resident felines in the Cat Cafes are treated with great respect. Before and during their stay, visitors must follow a list of rules including washing their hands before and after playing with the cats, removing their shoes, and not taking pictures with a flash. Interestingly, some cafes do not let visitors pick up the cats. The only exception to this rule is if a kitty voluntarily decides to jump on a customer’s lap.

These cafes are not just an attraction for tourists to Japan, but are actually quite popular with locals too. Why are Cat Cafes so popular with the locals in Japan?
As of July 2011, the human population in Japan was estimated to be 126,475,664 people. Of this population, only about 13% of these Japanese households owned a cat, and about 5% of the total Japanese population had a pet cat. These low pet cat numbers are due to strict housing legislation that does not allow certain homeowners in Japan to have a pet. Specifically, single individuals between 20 and 30 years of age living in apartments or condominiums cannot own a pet. For this reason, few Japanese homes actually own a pet, which makes the idea of Cat Cafe very appealing to locals.

Cat Cafes offer tourists and locals in Japan the opportunity to spend quality time with friendly felines in a comfortable atmosphere. If you are a cat enthusiast travelling to Japan, be sure to stop in to one of these unique Cat Cafes for a once in a lifetime experience visiting with the local felines.

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