One of the most unusual experiences we had in Japan was visiting a cat cafe. My friend Jessica absolutely adores cats though, so doing this was at the top of her list.
She did her research and found a place called Neko no Jikan a stone’s throw away from Dotonbori in Osaka. This was supposedly the very first cat cafe in Japan. So after dinner at that amazing food district, we paid a visit to some cats.
So here’s how it works. For 1200 JPY (almost 12 USD) you can enter and spend an hour with the cats. They are pretty strict: you have to wash your hands, take off your shoes (fairly normal thing indoors in Japan), and drink/dine in the small area away from the cats. You do get one drink included with admission–if you go, try the oolong, it was excellent.
Other than that, you pretty much just do your thing. Sit with the cats, watch them sleep, try to get them to play. If you want cat toys, you have to pay extra to rent them. Feeding the cats also requires additional cash.
Cat cafes are interesting. CNN published an article in 2014 suggesting cat cafes’ popularity comes down to the fact that having pets is not an easy thing for many people who may still wish to enjoy the company of animals. This is likely true in Japan, where many apartments don’t allow their tenants to keep pets. Playing with cats can also be relaxing. Here’s an interesting video by Time, incidentally filmed at Neko no Jikan, discussing the concept of the cat cafe.
We all know that cats basically rule the world and it’s difficult to get a cat to do what you want. That includes paying attention to you, playing with you, or even just laying quietly on your lap. They do their own thing, and you can go along with it. Our cat cafe experience reinforced those truths, pretty much.
I think it would have worked out a lot better for both us and the cats if we were doing something else. You know, like having your own cat at home? You hang out and try to watch a TV show, and absent-mindedly pet the feline until it decides you’ve petted it too much and tries to scratch you. Or you sit and answer some emails, and then the cat sits on the keyboard demanding your attention. Cats are fairly independent creatures most of the time so they probably can’t tolerate people in their face all day, everyday.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the novelty and some of the cats were truly adorable. Some were not enjoying our presence, and others were simply indifferent (or asleep), but that was okay, as there were quite a few.
If you’ve never visited a cat cafe, it’s not a bad idea to check one out, since their popularity is spreading beyond Japan. Unless, of course, you hate cats and/or the very powerful and inescapable smell of cat pee. Try and visit later in the evening so it’s less crowded, and the staff at Neko no Jikan may just let you stay until closing time.
Have you visited a cat cafe before? Did you enjoy it?