Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Inside Tokyo's Calico Cat Cafe

(Click here to watch if video doesn't load)

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.



abyaday said...

I see some Abyssinians!!! Especially love the one at 4:17 on the video :-)

I went to Tokyo in August 2006. There weren't any cat cafes then, as far as I know; seems to me that they started appearing in 2007. But I did go to Pet City in Odaibai, where they had two adorable Abyssinian kittens for sale!

My big regret is that I was too chicken to try to sneak a photo...and back then, since I didn't have a cellphone that could get service in Asia, I didn't even have a crappy cellphone camera to try to get a stealth photo.

Those little Abys were so cute...I was stunned to see them just there, for anyone to buy.

abyaday said...

Forgot the link:

Anonymous said...

I have a free iPhone app called Catcafe Calico that shows pictures people have taken at the cafe. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget to watch Animal Planet’s “Must Love Cats” which will premier on March 10, 2012. The host visited Japan and went to Cat Island.

Catsparella said...

@Anon I can't wait to watch!!

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