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One of my biggest regrets (aside from getting food poisoning) about my 2010 trip to Japan is that I didn't get a chance to visit a cat cafe in Tokyo. While I wasn't a serious blogger at the time, and didn't know as much about cat culture, part of me feels that I should have subconsciously been aware of the phenomena, and found some way to partake in the experience.
I'm not sure I'll ever get the chance to return, but if I do, one of my first stops will be to the Calico Cat Cafe featured in this mini documentary by The Guardian. While the idea of paying to enjoy the company of cats - when you can do the exact same thing at home for free - may seem absurd to some, it follows the same line of logic that makes us pay $15 to go see a movie, when we could just as easily watch one from the comfort of our couch.
Aside from my Western fantasies, the Asian cat cafe craze has been bolstered in part by the fact that many urban dwellers are unable to keep cats in their small apartments, or are charged exorbitant fees for doing so. When forced to live this kind of cat-less lifestyle, the rent-a-pet model becomes less of a luxury, and more of a much needed service to the cat loving people of Japan.
When I've posted about cat cafes in the past, the question always comes up as to why there aren't any in the United States. It's unclear to me how Japan - one of the most fastidious and cleanest countries in the world - manages to make provisions for the cafes, while the practice remains roundly forbidden by the U.S. Department of Health. As an example, Matilda - the longtime resident feline at The Algonquin Hotel in New York City - was put on a leash in November after years of free reign, after someone made a complaint, and the health department suggested that "pets in food-service facilities are no longer commingled."
For now, the mystical cat cafe will have to remain a dream for many us, but hopefully one day we'll all be able to live in a world where tea with a side of cats is always on the menu.
Via The Guardian