Already a city of highly diverse innovation, a new fad in dynamic Tokyo appears to be the cat café, which has captured the hearts of animal lovers. Here, one pays for the privilege of being in the diffident company of some fabulous felines; that is, if they will tolerate you.
Now, however, that has all changed. The Calico and other cat cafés are truly “in” places, the real “cat’s meow,” so to speak. Here, customers seeking human and feline companionship pay to sip tea and stroke one of the 20-odd resident cats, representing 17 different breeds.
Cat cafés fill an important social void in a nation of aging and childless adults. Many patrons would be pet owners, but cannot either because of work obligations or no-pet housing facilities.
These cafés have become so popular as a place for tea and social exchange that this past month a second branch of Calico opened in a very classy, high-rent district of Tokyo known as Shinjuku.
The original café is so packed that reservations are required (and some even claim that guests must be cleared with the cats)!
There are some rules that all who enter must follow. Customers must wear their laminated cat-access passes around their neck at all times, no children under the 5th grade may enter, cats too young to be held have scarves around their necks, customers may not hold or stroke a cat if it resists, must let napping cats lie, and never bring cat nip or cat food to the café.
It would seem that one hour of communion with a loving fur-ball at the cost of about $9 US dollars, is a bargain that many cannot resist.