A few months ago, I published a post about a new rage in Japan: Cat Cafs. Like an Internet Caf, it’s a place to hang out, but with furry felines taking the place of computer stations.
Recently, I ran across a first-person account of a visit to one of these cafs by Sarah Marchildon. Here’s an excerpt:
I went to a cat cafe in Osaka yesterday. Although, describing it as a cafe is somewhat misleading. Its more of a cat brothel than a cat cafe.
Six hundred yen (about $5) gets you all the cats you can stroke for an hour. A few hundred yen extra gets you a drink to quench your thirst after all of the heavy petting is over.
After you have removed your shoes, sterilized your hands and paid your money, its time to get down on your knees and play with the cat of your choice.
The cafe is called Neko no Jikan (or Cat Time in English). The 20 cats that work here have free range of the place, sitting and sleeping wherever they like.
The cafe consists of two large rooms. There is the cafe area, which is exactly what it sounds like. There are couches and small tables where you can sip a cup of coffee while a cat sleeps on your lap or at your feet. It is a cozy space with soft lighting and classical music playing quietly in the background.
The other room, attached to the cafe, is best described as a cat playroom. No drinks are allowed in this room. You can play with the cats or just sit on one of the many couches and watch all of the four-legged loving go down.
The cafe was busy but not crowded. The vast majority of customers were women. There were a few men but they had all come on the arms of their girlfriends. The most enthusiastic customer was a middle-aged man with a 1950s rock-and-roll pompadour. He made a point of talking to all of the cats, clucking and cooing over their every move.
Oh look at you! You sure like to sleep dont you? Oh, yes you do. Yes you do. You cute little sleeper you.
Of course, cats being cats, it was somewhat difficult to seduce them into spending time with you. They would sit in your lap for about a minute before squirming out of your embrace.
If you wanted a cat to play with you, you were better off buying some tuna from the cafe in order to lure them in. These ladies bought some tuna and they were instantly the most popular people in the room.
The woman with the pink cell phone on her lap could tell I was feeling a bit left out so she handed me a piece of her tuna. As soon as I started waving the tuna around, I had no shortage of cats wanting to sit on my lap. But once the tuna was gone, so were they.
Everyone was pouring out love to these cats but the cats werent giving much back. Cats do not love stupidly and blindly like dogs. Cats can be affectionate and playful but they are also independent and solitary (or stubborn and uncooperative, depending on your viewpoint). I was happy enough just to be near them.
I had a brilliant idea: shelters in the United States should build cat cafs and populate them with adoptable cats. If I worked, say, in downtown San Francisco, and could spend my lunch break petting cats, I would so totally do that. How about you?