Anyone whose finger has been even intermittently on the pulse of Japanese cultural trends in the past couple of years has surely heard about cat cafes. Basically they’re just what they sound like: They’re cafes with cats in them. Since many people in Tokyo and other large Japanese cities live in apartments that don’t allow pets, these cafes have become popular as a way to get one’s animal fix without the responsibility of actually owning a pet.

But how exactly do cat cafes work? What are they like, really? A few days ago, I grabbed a friend and went on a mission to find out.

After researching several cat cafes online, we chose to visit one in Ikebukuro called Neko no Iru Kyuusokujo 299. (The website is in Japanese, but there are pretty pictures.) We liked that it seemed to have a lot of space, big comfy sofas to relax on, shelves full of manga to read, and of course lots of cute kitties! Fortunately, we weren’t disappointed and the cafe lived up to the impression it gave on its website.

tokyo cat cafe

The way things went down procedure-wise was quite simple: We first walked into a closed-off reception area where we were instructed to remove our shoes and change into the slippers provided. We were then given an explanation of the cafe rules. (My friend, who doesn’t know much Japanese, was handed a card with all the rules written out in English.) We were each given a card stamped with our time of entry, which we were instructed to present on our way out to calculate our payments. (We would be charged by the length of time we stayed in the cafe.) Both of us opted to purchase unlimited fountain drinks (with various coffees, teas and juices available) for 350 yen. The friendly attendant then spritzed our hands with hand sanitizer and left us to our devices.

We proceeded to have a very nice, relaxing time lazing around on the couches, petting the kitties, trying to take cute photos, and observing the people attempting (usually in vain) to engage the cats’ attention with the various toys available. At one point, we watched a whole gaggle of cats practically mob one of the attendants as she doled out snacks to them. The cats were obviously healthy and well cared for, and all the people in the room all seemed happy to be there. (Though there was one guy who seemed to be there just to sleep, and was dozing away on one of the couches the whole time!)

tokyo cat cafe

Besides the cats, the drinks, the shelves full of manga and the cat toys, this cafe had a few other things to keep guests entertained including computers with free Internet and even a massage chair! They also had binders laid out with photos of all the cats, their names, and explanations of their personalities, which was nice.

We ended up paying over 2,000 yen each for the couple of hours we spent at the cafe. A bit spendy perhaps, but we felt it was worth it and we would like to go again! But then again, we’ve heard there’s also such a thing as a rabbit cafe. So maybe we’ll check out one of those next time!

Have you ever been to a cat cafe? If so, how was your experience? If not, would you like to go?


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