Tokyo Residents Relax at Cat Cafés

Patrons at the city's seven cat cafés can sip tea while enjoying the company of staff cats.

Posted: April 28, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Courtesy of Neko JaLaLa
Curl is one of eight cats that spend time with customers at Neko JaLaLa in Tokyo.
To escape from the stress of city life, customers of Tokyo’s cat café Neko JaLaLa can relax on soft couches while sipping tea — and stroking the fur of one of the café’s eight staff cats. Neko JaLaLa and similar cat cafés offer customers time with pets without the responsibility of ownership, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

In a city where real estate expenses and long work hours make pet ownership difficult, cat cafés fill a unique niche. For a small fee — $8 to $12 per hour — customers can enjoy the company of the cats. “I always used to play with cats back home, but now I can’t, since I live on my own,” said Yuka Sato, a customer at café Neko no Mise. “I wish I could live together with cats like this.”

Neko no Mise keeps 12 cats on staff and treats them royally. Customers are expected to do the same. Many cat cafés have strict guidelines about the handling of their feline charges: do not pull tails, do not wake a sleeping cat, and do not pick up a cat are common rules.

“I don’t hesitate to scold people who treat cats in a bad way,” said Osamu Maeda, owner of Neko JaLaLa. Sometimes the cats act up, however — a look at the stereo speakers at Neko no Mise reveals that it is a favorite scratching post. At Neko JaLaLa, one cat likes to sneak sips of milk tea out of customers’ cups.

Still, the cat cafés do a booming business, while teaching customers about the plight of cats in Japan. Maeda hopes to raise awareness about stray cats and the problem of pet dumping, which contributes to almost 240,000 animals being euthanized each year. “Everything here is based on the idea of getting people to love cats,” he said.

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Reader Comments

A Cat Lover    Paramus, NJ

5/3/2008 12:02:25 PM

I think that's wonderful! Especially since the customers choose to come there. I always loved it when I went into a store and there was resident kitty there for me to make friends with.

me    me, ME

4/29/2008 12:43:19 AM

nice article

Ellen    Attleboro, MA

4/29/2008 12:24:49 AM

cat cafes' how cool!!

Paula    Independecne, MO

4/28/2008 11:23:49 PM

Neat article

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