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Cat Cafes: Finding a furry friend

Cat cafes, also known as Neko Cafes, are a type of Japanese coffee shop where people can play with cats that roam freely around the venue. These cafes can be found in most major cities in Japan; they are often not located at street level but on higher floors in multi-story buildings and not always easily found. Cat cafes have really taken off in Japan in the past few years, spreading to countries all across the world including England, Austria and America. Let’s take a look at what makes cat cafes so popular in Japan and how you can enjoy them.

Where it started

In Japan, pet ownership is difficult due to their small living quarters, strict rental agreements and busy lifestyles, which is why cat cafes have become so popular with locals in Japan as well as overseas visitors and tourists who enjoy the company of felines. These cafes are incredibly popular, you may not need to book when visiting but it may be worthwhile calling ahead when visiting the cafes that are more popular than most. 
As of 2015, Tokyo was home to 58 cat cafes, the first of which opened back in 2005. There are varying types of cat cafes across Japan with some featuring specific categories such as black cats, fat cats and rare-breeds – there is even a cafe in Tokyo that added goats as a unique way of bringing in customers. These cafes operate under strict rules to ensure cleanliness and animal welfare, and that the cats are not disturbed by excessive and unwanted attention, such as by young children or when sleeping. Most cat cafes seek to raise awareness of cat welfare issues such as those that are abandoned and stray.

Enjoying cat cafes

Cat cafes charge customers based on their time spent in the cafe at around 200 yen per ten minutes. Most cafes allow you to purchase cat treats and at some places, additional charges apply to food and drinks for humans. Power outlets are also available at many of the cafes for patrons to charge their electronic devices, while others provide complimentary magazines and comic books as well as massage chairs for their customers to use during their visit, it depends on which cat cafe you choose to visit. Simple English explanations and instructions are available at many cat cafes in Japan, either in written form or conducted by the staff making it an experience that can be enjoyed by all. 

Rules for cat cafes

When enjoying a cat cafe, it’s important to remember that there are still rules to stick to. As you enter cat cafes there is a typical procedure that you should follow:

  • You can register at the entrance, where your starting time will be recorded.
  • You will be asked to remove your footwear and change into the provided indoor slippers.
  • You will then need to sanitize hands with alcohol spray before moving to where the cats are. Customers are free to pick any vacant spot and move around the cat cafe to play with the animals. Food and drinks can also be ordered once you decide on a seat. Cat toys are also provided at the cafe and free to use.
  • After having your fill of playing with the cats, you can return to the entrance where you will pay for the time spent there and anything else you may have ordered, such as food and drink.

Each cat cafe will have its own rules that need to be followed, but more often than not they are similar. Most places will allow you to pet the cats but you aren’t allowed to pick them up unless a cat comes on its own accord. Cat cafes often offer treats to give to cats as they must not be fed with outside food. When in the cafe, you will be more than welcome to take pictures of the cafe and the cats as long as you don’t use your flash.
At Atelier Japan, we want everyone to explore the intricate nature of Japanese culture. From our handcrafted inlay jewellery to our fans that have been produced using ancient techniques, there is a piece of Japanese culture in each and every product in our collection. Visit the Atelier Japan collections to browse our auspicious products and purchase your own piece of Japanese craft.
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