Caturday felid: Special treat!

February 5, 2011 • 5:56 am

When I did my three-year postdoc in Davis, California, I was bored and kitteh-less, for our apartment complex didn’t allow pets.  Since I read the San Francisco Chronicle, I had dreams of opening a cafe called “Coffee, Kitty, and Chronicle.”  The idea would be to run a relaxed and friendly place where people could come, drink good coffee, and read the papers, all the while petting or playing with the many cats that would roam freely on the premises.

Alas, such establishments are verboten in America, for the combination of food and animals is considered unsanitary.  (The enlightened French, however, think otherwise: I’ve often seen dogs sitting on the banquettes in French bistros.)

Not long ago, though, I discovered that my dream of a cat café had become reality in one country: Japan.  For in that land there are more than a hundred neko cafes (“neko” is Japanese for “cat”), where customers can relax, have coffee and noms, and play with cats that live in the café.  What a great idea (since it was once mine)!

And, looking up the locations of these cafés, I discovered there was a particularly LOLzy one in Yokohama, which happens to be the home town of blogger Yokohamamama, our Official Resident Correspondent in Japan.  (You’ve probably seen her comments on this site.)  Ever since I learned of the presence of the Neko Cafe Leon in Yokohama, where the official manager is a double-mutant cat named Leon (a Scottish fold with dwarf legs), I’ve been hectoring Yokohamamama to visit it and file a report.

She has now done so, and you can read her awesome post, “An afternoon at the Neko Cafe Leon,” on her site.  It’s full of pictures, videos, and descriptions about what it’s like to visit such a place.  Although a visit is not cheap, it sounds wonderful.  Be sure to watch both videos, which include manager Leon the Mutant Cat (the Japanese seem to have a penchant for mutant felids) and Yokohamamama’s kids playing with the nekos.  There’s even a photo of the resident Ceiling Cat!

Go over to the post and have many LOLz.  And do leave your comments and questions there, not here, as Yokohamamama is very good about answering readers’ questions.


17 thoughts on “Caturday felid: Special treat!

  1. Not just the French! I took my Seattle-born alaskan malamute all over Europe for several years. French restaurants, Viennese cafes, British pubs, Venetian gondolas, you name it. Not to mention public transport access almost everywhere.

    Australia is even worse than the USA for this – even outdoor cafes are officially verboten.

  2. Teh kittehs are in a separate room, and they charge you to go see them? I guess, if that’s all you got. Meantime, I’ll just count myself lucky. With three kittehs, one of them is always hanging around.

    The French do take their dogs everywhere, don’t they? And they never have just one. It’s always two of the same breed in different colors. But it’s not like they bother the other tables in the bistro.

  3. A couple of years ago my sister and I were in Utrecht on a cold summer day and stopped in cafe to warm up. We were welcomed by a remarkably friendly but UGLY cat. He took turns having a little lap time with everyone in the cafe! Very civilized.

  4. “I was bored and kitteh-less, for our apartment complex didn’t allow pets.”

    I never let that stop me. A number of my cats have been “stealth” kittehs.

    A few years ago, I was spending a week in a rehab facility for therapy on a recently broken arm and badly missing my two boys. A volunteer who visited every two days brought a cat with her so that inmates could get a fur fix.

  5. I have no problem with dogs sitting on the banquettes. However, what bothers me is dogs sitting on the baguettes.

  6. There’s a restaurant/bar in Seattle called Norm’s that allowed you to bring your dogs. Cute doggies everywhere! …But still not kitties allowed.

  7. In a very upmarket coffee shop in Vienna many years ago I was startled when two small dogs started an altercation at the table next to us! They were of the ‘dog in handbag’ variety but they still tried to rip each other’s throats out. Cats would have been better 🙂

  8. Thanks to all who stopped by to comment :-)!

    I do think cat cafes are a nice idea, since so *many* people in Japan live in no-pets-allowed apartments and flats–and most Japanese really love animals! Petting zoos with mice, chicks, bunnies, guinea pigs and such are extremely popular. The cafes are fairly recent–a trend picked up from Taiwan, where the first such establishment was. I think the first one in Tokyo opened in 2004 (2005?). I found it very relaxing to sit on the floor surrounded by kitties–sleeping, playing, prowling, hanging from the rafters… 😉

  9. I’m just reminded of the movie Ratatouille. I’d love a rat cafe(probably the most verboten of allll fantasy pet cafes) but I can just cook up some epic eats and pretend with my own pet rodents at home, hurp C:

    I’m not sad at all, lol

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