Here is an interesting concept that has been a growing trend in Japan for about ten years. Someday, it might catch on here in the United States, but we will have to wait.
The Cat Cafe
A Cat Cafe is basically a storefront that you can visit, but instead of selling coffee or pastries, you can interact with cats. For about ten American dollars per hour, patrons can visit with, pet, feed, and generally interact with the cats.
In Japan, especially in the cities, there are very few housing options for people with pets. Even those that do have the option are usually too busy to care for a cat. Therefore, most people do not have pets themselves. That did not stop the love of pets. People will always find a way to get what they want if they want it badly enough. Cat cafes started popping up in 1998 (Taiwan) and have continued to to grow in popularity. The first cat cafe in Japan opened in 2004.
How it Works
If you happen to be in Japan and want to visit a cat cafe, you will need to know how it works. Once you find one that you want to visit, you head inside just like a regular restaurant or store. Sometimes they will be too busy and will take your cell number so they can call you when there is a vacancy (just like a busy restaurant on a Friday night).
Each cafe is a little different. Some require you to pay upfront, while others wait until the end. Think about the differences between a buffet and a diner. You are then asked to take off your shoes (standard Japanese practice when indoors) and wash your hands. Cleanliness is very important in these cafes.
Finally you will be shown into your room where there will be lots of cats and maybe some other patrons. Each person or group of customers gets their own table or space. Some cafes allow and sell food and drink, while others do not.
Typically, there are about ten to twelve cats per room and the room is about the size of an average North American bedroom.
Dos and Don’ts
Cat cafes are required by law to adhere to strict standards regarding the health and wellness of the cats they keep in their shops. Between the laws and the culture, cat cafes are much cleaner places than we might expect, even with all of those cats.
When you visit a cat cafe, there are some general guidelines you are expected to follow. For example:
-Keep yourself clean. You may be asked to sanitize your hands, arms, and legs or feet if they are bare.
-Let sleeping cats lie. If a cat is sleeping, do not disturb it.
-Do not pick up cats unless they are asking for you to. As most cat owners know, this is generally a good practice for any cat. They might get angry if they do not want to be held.
-Do respect the cats, employees, and other visitors.
As you can see, most of it is common sense.
Adapting this Concept For the US
Here is a thought - What if animal shelters were to adapt this concept to their shelters. They are always looking for ways to bring in money so they can care for sick and abandoned animals. And there are also lots of people around that can either not afford to care for an animal or live somewhere that does not allow pets. It the shelter charged a few dollars or a donation of food for the chance to visit with all or some of the animals for an hour or so a day, it could be a win-win situation for all involved.
A cat cafe would probably not work the same way here as it does in Japan, but the concept could be adapted to work for some shelters and/or places where pets are sold/adopted.
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About the author:
Kayleigh has always loved animals and has spent time volunteering at the local dog shelter. The love of her life is her four year old Rottweiler, Lizzie. She enjoys writing for YeePet.com since it combines her love of animals with one of her favor...