A sign of the times: the Cat Cafe, which is fast taking on in Tokyo, and likely to be around the corner from you and me in a couple of years. I can’t wait.
With a popular road in front of my only exit door, I can’t safely keep one. But I’ve been a cat lover for years, and miss looking after other people’s cats, some of which have now passed to a different world. Mischief, you know who I’m talking about.
As you would expect, Wikipedia knows about cat cafes. It says they are themed places where customers go to drink tea and stroke residential cats (some of them more exotic than you or I could afford to keep, let alone buy).
Patrons usually pay an hourly cover fee; you might view cat cafes as a form of supervised ‘indoor pet rental’. It costs about £9 an hour to spend time in a Cat Cafe.
Cat’s Store, or Neko no Mise, opened by Hanada Norimasa in 2005 was a pioneer in this line. Many others have followed.
It is thought that the popularity of cat cafes in Japan is partly due to stiff regulations forbidding pets in many apartments, and the fact that cats are relaxing companions in stressful, lonely urban lives.
Some cat cafes feature black cats, fat cats, rare breed cats or ex-stray cats, and they must all get a licence and comply with strict regulations under Japanese animal treatment and protection laws.
Additionally, Japanese cat cafes have strict rules about cleanliness – human and animal – and will not allow visitors to outstay their welcome or make unfair demands on cats.
Calico, which opened in March 2007, has become so popular that last October it opened another branch in the business and shopping district of Shinjuku.
As long as you promise to behave yourself, take off your shoes, wash your hands and put your bag in a locker, you can get into Calico with an ID card.
Let’s start some Cat Cafes in the UK.