One of the most enjoyable trips I make twice a month is to my local veterinary hospital to pick up some cat food and treats. My daughter loves to come inside with me since there is always a house cat or two there to greet us.
Before we leave, I check out the community bulletin board. Sadly, I often read postings that a cat needs a good home because its owner is moving some place that doesn't allow pets. In Japan (and many big cities) this is a common problem for apartment dwellers.
panda073 on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
When I looked into this some more, I found out that a lady named Yoko Yoshida came up with a brilliant idea in 2004. She opened a cafe in Kita Ward, Osaka in 2005 where people could come in, have a drink and spend time with cats. The place is called Neko no Jikan which means Cats' Time. It's also known as Cats' Time Cafe (in English).
When I searched online, I found out that cat cafes are becoming quite popular. In New York, a cat cafe opened its doors for just 4 days, from April 24th - 27th, 2014. It was a big hit. The purpose was to educate the public about cat health and to find good homes for felines rescued by North Shore Animal League America (one of the largest rescue and adoption organizations in the world).
The event was sponsored by Purina and people waited in line for hours to come in and spend time with the cats. Up next is a short snippet of Purina One’s pop-up Cat Café in NYC.
First 'Cat Cafe' Opens in North America
by Jennifer Rizzi for the New York Daily News
History and Benefits of Cat Cafes
cat-observer on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericAccording to Wikipedia, the first cat cafe in the world opened in 1998 in Taipei, Taiwan. Today, there are 39 cat cafes in Tokyo alone. I was relieved to learn that patrons must follow a cat-friendly set of rules such as: washing hands before handling the cats, wearing slippers (so as not to step on a tail with shoes), and leaving cats alone to sleep or eat.
Some cat cafes have purebred felines and some have rescued cats. Many of these shops promote animal welfare and have teamed up with adoption centers to try and find good homes for their cat staff.
The benefit is obvious to both cats and humans.
Cat cafes provide a safer, kinder environment for homeless cats which maintains a trusting relationship with humans. Abandoned cats might otherwise become difficult to domesticate and overcrowded shelter animals are sometimes euthanized. Not to mention that living outdoors or in a rescue shelter must be extremely stressful for any animal.
Guilhem Vellut on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericFor humans, cats provide numerous health benefits. In an article written by Catharine Paddock, PhD, I found out that owning a cat could reduce the risk of heart attack by almost a third - wow.
Dr. Adnan Qureshi et al. of the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute in Minneapolis, collected data from 4,435 Americans aged 30 to 75 and over a 10-year period found that cat owners had a 30% lower risk of death from heart attack compared to non-cat owners.
Veterinary pathologist Lawrence McGill, surmised that because cats are lap animals (and most enjoy being petted), that this is how cats lower stress levels, heart rate and blood pressure. It's physically calming to pet a cat (or any animal).
Did I Mention Coffee and Refreshments?
MsSaraKelly on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericAnother charming benefit to humans is that cat cafes are a great place to have a coffee or other refreshment.
In Tokyo, Japan there is a cat cafe that serves up a Kawaii Cat milkshake - complete with a cute cat face drawn on top (shown at right). Or you can order a Cat Latte or other hot beverage in many cat cafes.
Some of these feline coffee shops also offer food. Most of the time, I found that cat cafes keep the eating area separate from the cats. This makes good sense. It prevents people from spilling hot beverages on cats or cat fur winding up in someone's food and drink.
Many places have internet access and shelves lined with books and magazines. Some cafes have incorporated brilliant "hide-outs" for the cats so they can climb way up and observe we humans (at their leisure and discretion, of course).
Cat Cafes in North America
Yuichiro Haga on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericIn Canada, here are the cities and predicted dates when doors open to cat cafes:
- Café Chat l’Heureux in Montreal, Quebec will be located at 172 Avenue Duluth Est sur le plateau Mont-Royal and plans to open Fall 2014
- Kitty Cat Cafe in Toronto, Ontario launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and is hoping to open September 2014
- Toronto's Pet Me Meow is planning to open a permanent location where rescue cats will be available for adoption in the Fall of 2014
- Catfé in Vancouver, British Columbia is planning to open a cat cafe Fall 2014
In the US, here are the places to check out soon:
- KitTea Café in San Francisco, California is currently crowdfunding and plans to open in 2014
- Cat Town Cafe in Oakland, California has signed a five-year lease in the Auto Row area and is expected to open September 2014
- Catfe in Los Angeles is collecting funds via Kickstarter
- The Cat Cafe in San Diego has signed a lease on a place in San Diego’s Marina district