Japan’s cat cafés have been very popular after-work spots over the course of the last few years.
They fill a need and appeal to the many cat lovers in Japan who are forbidden to keep cats in their apartments because of strict housing regulations.
A pot of tea or other beverage and $US12 per hour allows for the privileged company of a feline with whom one can confer about the woes of the world.
For the most part, it is this after-work crowd that comprises the majority of the customers who frequent these cat cafés.
Many tired workers relieve their work stress before returning home for the evening by playing with and petting the animals.
An up-and-coming revision to Japan’s Animal Protection Law, which is slated to go into effect on June 1, may quell all purrs of delight from cats, the customers and the cat café managers.
This new law will affect this after-work crowd as it will forbid the public display of dogs and cats after 8 p.m.
“There’s this new revision, which says we should be open from eight in the morning until eight at night. After 8 p.m., we have to put the cats in the back, away from the customers, and close,” said Hiromi Kawase, a Tokyo cat café owner.
According to the government, it is not the cat cafés the new law is targeting, even though they are directly affected by its parameters.
The revision in the legislation is actually directed at the late-night pet shops, which often sell dogs and cats around the clock, keeping the animals are kept in small cages under bright lights that are never turned off.
Many cat café customers don’t arrive before 8 p.m. and like to stay until closing, which is usually around 10 p.m.
The new law really isn’t fair as the cat cafés aren’t in operation all day and the animals are lovingly treated, and never abused.
“If I can’t see the cats, I won’t come,” said customer Tatsuo Karuishi. “It’s a great place; it calms the stresses of working life. If this law goes through, that enjoyment is going to disappear. It’s a real shame.”
One can only wonder how the cats feel about this new revision in the law.
But then again, can they?