Cat Cafes: The Newest Trend Coming from Tokyo

From Montreal to San Francisco, cat cafe openings have been announced in cities across North America.

Image courtesy Charlotte Steggz.

Image courtesy Charlotte Steggz.

The first cat cafe may have opened in Taiwan in 1998, but ever since then the concept has taken off, particularly in Japan, with over 150 cat cafes opening in the past decade. While a cat cafe does sound a bit gimmicky, one of the main factors contributing to the success of cat cafes in Japan is largely due to the fact many apartments do not allow its residents to own cats, not to mention many people don’t have the space and time required to care for them. The price isn’t cheap, with one of Tokyo’s most popular cat cafes charging 900 yen (about $10 Canadian) for an hour and drinks costing about 200 yen.

All of you feline lovers get ready to see more cat cafes coming your way, as this trend is expanding way beyond Asia and coming much closer than you think. This past September Paris saw its first cat cafe open, Le Café des Chats, with tons of success. Unlike the Japanese-style cafe that is more of an hourly pet rental experience, this version is a cafe first with the cats being an added extra.

In Europe you’ll also find Cafe Neko in Vienna, opened in 2012 by a Japanese woman, only after three years of negotiating with city officials over hygiene issues. In London Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium just opened its doors March 1, 18-months in the making and already has a waiting list until June.

North America isn’t far behind with Montreal and Vancouver both announcing they will be opening cat cafes this year. Café Chat l’Heureux in Montreal is set to open this summer, while Vancouver’s Catfé has a fall opening date scheduled. Just last week Toronto was the latest city to announce a cat cafe opening. In its infancy stage, Smitten Kitten Cafe is still looking for a location, as well as funds to start the project. The challenges beyond caring for the animals is of course, hygiene, especially when selling food on-site. Other cities we’ve heard are considering cat cafes? San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland. Meow!