In Japan, cat lovers are paying for petting time at the country’s popular cat cafés. For a fee of up to $10 an hour, patrons can enjoy tea, lounge on a comfortable chair and borrow the affection of feline employees.
Neko JaLaLa, near Tokyo’s bustling Akihabara district, is one of over 70 cat cafés to open in Japan. Another, Calico, sees up to 70 visitors a day during the week and 150 a day on weekends at its location in the city of Musashino. Such cafés have become a cultural trend in Japan over the last six years, particularly in the overstressed metropolis of Tokyo. Pets are banned at many rental apartments, and jet-setting workaholics are too busy to care for their own.
Because of cat hair—and smell—vacuums and air fresheners are plentiful. The cafés also require patrons to wash their hands, use liquid sanitizer and remove their shoes. And the well-being of the professional pets comes first. The cafés are quick to scold over such infractions as tail-pulling and sleep interruption, and children are often unwelcome. And, should constant attention begin to bore them, a cat may snub a customer in favour of a scratching post.