Cat cafes are big business in Japan. For over a decade, stressed out city dwellers have been able to enjoy a cup of coffee and a furry cuddle in their local moggie spot.
It has been well over ten years since the first cat cafe opened in Asia, and the trend doesn’t seem to be dying out any time soon. With around 40 cat cafes in Tokyo, Japanese cat lovers are definitely spoilt for choice.
So how exactly do these cat cafes work? Feline lovers normally pay an entry fee to visit these cafes that are known as ‘neko cafes’ and then an hourly fee is normally charged thereafter.
The idea is, all cat lovers who do not have a cat, have the luxury and freedom of having a coffee and a cake in one of the many cat cafes without any further responsibility that a pet owner normally undertakes.
Even if cat lovers are not restricted from keeping their feline friends in their apartments, many people simply do not have the time or commitment to look after a pet
Strict apartment pet regulations helped give rise to this trend, as well as incredibly demanding lifestyles that leave no room for pets. Even if cat lovers are not restricted from keeping their feline friends in their apartments, many people simply do not have the time or commitment to look after a pet. Indeed, the popularity of cat cafes appears to be sustained by the constraints of modern life.
Neko cafes are providing a service that many deem necessary and vital to their well-being. With the stresses and demands of living in a cosmopolitan society, many people who attend cat cafes agree that they are therapeutic and they often feel relaxed during and after their visit.
And it’s not just human welfare at stake. Reassuringly, all cat cafes must follow strict Japanese laws that outline animal welfare regulations and there is to a loyal group of animal activists who are keeping a firm eye on the welfare of cats and their treatment in neko cafes. A new law that prohibits cats being shown after a certain time is also in force. This law came about after residents voiced their concerns about cat cafes.
So you ask, is there any possibility of this cat cafe trend catching on in the UK? Surprisingly yes, if prospective cat cafe owner Lauren Pears has anything to do with it. She hopes to turn her dreams into reality by opening London’s dedicated feline spot. Through a public fund appeal where she requested £108,000 worth of donations to start the project, she has so far managed to raise over £109,000. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before we’re enjoying a bit of tea and a stroke in the capital.
by Paula Pennant.