Oh No, Neko: Cat Cafes Facing Hiss-Worthy New Law


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For years, cat cafs have been an oasis of calm in the hectic life of Tokyo’s residents. They allow frazzled workers to stop by and drop their day’s tensions and enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever. People who live in the city of 13 million often face strict regulations that forbid cats in many apartment buildings, so the cafs also allow Tokyo cat lovers to get their feline fix.

But now, the cafs may be forced to close their doors before most city residents even get out of work.

A new revision to Japan’s Animal Protection Law, due to go into effect on June 1, will put a curfew on the public display of cats and dogs.

The law is targeted toward late-night pet shops, which often sell cats and dogs 24 hours a day, keeping them under bright lights that never shut off. But the cat cafs are collateral damage in the fight to stop the real animal abusers.

The cafs would only be allowed to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hiromi Kawase, the owner of one of Tokyo’s cat cafs, says she doesn’t keep her establishment open all night. But she does stay open until 10 p.m. and finds that many of her customers don’t even get there until 8 the end of the workday for most of Tokyo’s residents.

“Everybody knows cats are really happy in the evening,” says Kawase, “so I just can’t understand why the people at the top are ignoring this. It’s really strange.”

It’s a shame that these awesome establishments, with their well-cared-for and well-loved cats, will suffer if the law, as currently written, goes into effect.

The cats will suffer if business hours go down, too, Kawase says.

Of course they will, These cats are well-socialized and they love and need their time with their human friends. The caf patrons provide lots of exercise and affection for the cats, and the money the caf owners earn from selling drinks and the $12 per hour fee for the privilege of enjoying the cats’ company helps them to pay for the felines’ vet care, grooming, food, and other necessities.

We can only hope that Tokyo’s animal control regulators will make an exception to the curfew for cat cafs, so the city’s cat lovers can continue to enjoy the pleasure of feline company.

Check out this video from Nekorobi, one of Tokyo’s most popular cat cafs, and see these well-loved beauties in action.

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

And if you want an absolutely delightful time-waster, go check out Nekorobi’s Picasa album and YouTube channel.

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