What Are ‘Cat Cafes’ And How They Can Make Your Life Better

A multiple choice question for you: what goes best with coffee?

Is it (a) sugar, (b) milk, or (c) caramel? It’s a trick question because the correct answer doesn’t go in your coffee. The best thing to accompany a freshly brewed cup of Joe is none other than a cat (or two).

Thanks to the recent rise of cat cafes you no longer have to perfect your home-brewing game to enjoy this perfect pairing. Here is all you need to know about these magical places.

Where Do They Come From?

Judging solely off of their cultural obsession with cats, and their undeniable affinity for anything out of the ordinary, my first guess on where cat cafes originated was Japan; however, I was only half right.

You Mean This Whole Time I Could Have Been Hanging In a Cafe!?
You Mean This Whole Time I Could Have Been Hanging In a Cafe!?

The first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998 but became so popular with Japanese tourists that someone brought it back home with them, where it exploded in popularity. There are now over 150 cat cafes in Japan, with many of them located in Tokyo.

Tokyo is easily the most cat-cafe-saturated city, but the trend is spreading across the globe. In just about any metropolis you can at least one cat cafe.

Paris, London, Melbourne are all growing hubs, while cities in Spain, Germany, and Korea are close behind. You can even find a few in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where coffee is almost more abundant than food. The one western country that has held off is the US, but that country is starting to come around.

The Challenges They Face

Unlike a standard cafe, a cat cafe faces some odd challenges. Depending on the country or city, stringent food safety regulations may severely limit these feline-friendly establishments.

For example, one of the main reasons this trend has taken so long to reach North America is that current regulations bar animals from going inside any food or drink serving establishment. That, and most Americans prefer dogs over cats; yet 18% said they’d prefer a dinosaur, so they apparently don’t know what they’re talking about.

These food safety regulations are similar in much of the western world so many cat cafes are required to have a separate, completely enclosed area for the cats. In many of these places, you must leave your beloved coffee outside while you make new furry friends.

Another issue they face is constant criticism from animal rights activist groups. Many are worried about the stress of life inside a cafe and claim that cats need a quieter and more stable environment.

Most cafes around the world have strict policies to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the cats. Visitors are not allowed to wake a sleeping cat, take pictures with a flash, or harass cats that don’t want to be social.

Additionally, cat cafes typically provide private areas for the cats in case they wish to seclude themselves and rest, and many operate as adoption centers, like Meow Parlor in New York.

Unfortunately, not every cafe does a good job of enforcing cat-friendly policies, and there is little regulation in any country to ensure that they do.

When you get your chance to visit one of these amazing places, just remember the words of Augustine, who works at Café des Chats in Paris: “We’re in their house, and they’re allowing us to visit them, so we have to respect them.”

If you’re unsure on how best to interact with a new cat, check out this where to stroke diagram.

Cat In Cafe Looking Out
Cat In Cafe Looking Out

How It Works

From city to city, and even cafe to cafe, the way it works can vary. Many cafes in Japan charge you by the hour (the average is about $9), as well as for the coffee. On the other side of the world, most places in Paris only charge for the drink, yet only allow you to stay for a certain amount of time.

Cat cafes are such a new and popular thing in Paris that for many you have to make a reservation a few days in advance. Some cafes in other cities also experience the same high demand and require a reservation, so it’s best to do a little online research before popping by.

Why You Should Go

I believe it was Einstein that said: “Nothing worth doing is done without a cat.” I could be wrong, but whoever said it (me) it’s entirely true. As you all know, cats just make everything better, so why not take the chance to combine them with something nearly as amazing?

Let’s not forget: it’s well documented that animal interaction can improve your mood and boost your spirits. Visiting a cat cafe is a great way to unwind from work and relax while a new furry friend purrs away in your lap.

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11 thoughts on “What Are ‘Cat Cafes’ And How They Can Make Your Life Better

  1. I so want to visit the ca t cafe in Melbourne. I have yet to get there. And let’s not forget how social workers love to encourage their patients/clients to get a cat or bird for company. Then when they move house or return to the place they came from they don’t consider the pet at all.

  2. I’ve visited the Cat Cafe in Melbourne. The first area is the reception and a take away type coffee bar where you can order your tea/coffee and cake (not compulsory) and they will bring it to you during your hour with the cats. You pay for your hour with the cats, sign in the visitors book to say that you’ve read the rules, and then wash your hands with special soap provided, and go through the door when the people from the previous hour come back from their session.

    The cats have several rooms where you can sit and watch them, play with them, stroke them and just be with them. There is always a cat-minder with them, making sure that no one gets too boisterous or noisy, or frightens the cats. The cats themselves are very relaxed and contented, and they have several windows so they can lie in the sun, watch birds on the feeder-perch outside, or even snooze in their bunks and comfy places on the cat-trees.

    There are couches and coffee tables in all the rooms – they are like lounges and each one is slightly different. The cats all have their favourite spots, and don’t seem to mind strange people sitting with them to drink their coffee. All the cats were selected from shelters, and chosen for their temperaments. There is also a private room with a cats-only entrance where any cat can go and hide if he or she feels overwhelmed by too many people or too much attention. When your hour is up you can spend time in the coffee bar area again, and browse the items in the souvenir shop.

    Well worth a visit for cat lovers.

  3. i wish that the Brooklyn Cat Cafe would be a real cafe where you can sit down and drink coffee while playing with the cats. Damn NYC health regulations. But I also realize that the cafe is too small to fit tables and chairs.

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