I am sure you have heard about the Japanese speciality of cat cafes. They are normal cafes housing a number of cats that are allowed to roam freely and interact with the guests. The idea is to provide people who are not allowed to keep pets, with some sort of outlet and the possibility to feel like a cat owner for a short time.
Well, since I am a wannabe cat owner, and since I am not allowed to keep a cat in this apartment, and since I am thus feeling rather cat deprived, I went to one of Kyoto’s cat cafes this afternoon.
The first thing I noticed when I entered was the warmth – this must have been the most overheated place in Japan – and the rather distinctive smell of kitty litter. There was an extra door at the entrance to prevent the cats escaping through the main entrance. I had to take off my shoes, wash my hands, and indicate how long I was planning to stay before I could get further inside. When seated, I was shown a “how to behave” list: No flash photography allowed, no harassing of the cats (or other guests), and a warning that the cats may scratch and that there may be cat hair in my tea. And then, finally, I was left to roam around freely and to interact with the cats. The place was well adapted to the cats’ needs: fluffy cushions and blankets, boxes of all sizes, high shelves to hide upon, plenty of cat toys, and sufficient litter boxes. The only weird thing was the aquarium with the single goldfish inside. Cat TV, I presume?
The cats were gorgeous. There were three young kittens in a little extra stall with extra charge and 15 adult cats in the main part of the cafe. The animals were of all colours and races – Russian Blue, Scottish Fold, Persian, and an amazing Norwegian Forest cat, among others. Unfortunately, I arrived at nap time, and all the cats were asleep. They were friendly and could be petted still, but I prefered to let them rest. Only when my hour was over, did they come to life again – and I felt a bit cheated, to be honest.
It seemed that the cats were well taken care of. Their coats were shiny and well-groomed in case of the long-haired cats, and although one was allowed to feed them, this was only possible with the food provided by the shop, a wise decision. Behind the counter there were some crates into which the cats would be placed at times to avoid overstimulation by the patrons. As for those, I expected the guests to be a bunch of elderly cat ladies like myself, but there were mostly young couples, which surprised me.
I spent a pleasant hour there, but next time I will go a bit later, after nap time. It is rather expensive – 1 hour there costs 1500 YEN, including one set of drinks and sweets – but if you’re really into cats, this is the place to go: