Tokyo’s cat cafés sound brilliant, in theory. A bunch of little coffee shops where you can sip a green tea latte and pay to play with the in-house cats. But Gideon Lewis-Kraus investigates further for Wired and finds that cat cafés aren’t always warm and fuzzy.
In Shimokitazawa, at a nice one, an employee tries to teach the author how to flick his wrist properly to play with the cats. In Ikebukuro, where the place smells of cat pee, there are printed rules (“Please hold their rump tightly in case of struggling”). And in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo’s Park Slope, it appears that the slow-moving cats may actually have been drugged.
Ideally though, the cat café can do something special. Though the animals aren’t trained therapy pets, they offer affection (sort of, they’re cats) and comfort visitors, helping them feel less stressed. The café also provides a home for strays and shelter animals.
Because of our strict health code in NYC, it would be impossible for the trend to catch on. Animals aren’t allowed into restaurants (though there are a handful of bars in the city where I used to be able to take my dog a few years back before things got so tight).
So we can only imagine the popularity of a great espresso bar patrolled by cute cats. If the animals were well-cared for and the place offered free Wi-Fi, I might be there right now instead of at my dumb, kitten-free desk.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 31, 2012