Starbucks coffee house originated from an idea by the founder Howard Schultz when he visited Milan Italy during a family vacation. He experienced how Europeans love visiting gourmet coffee bars as a place to visit and relax and would gladly pay a premium for their good coffee. He brought this idea to North America and in less than a decade, the idea spread throughout the USA and Canada and to all major cities around the world.
On the other side of the globe, In Asia, a different type of coffee house, themed cafes are springing up as a way of differentiating themselves from Starbucks which can now be found in all major Asian cities. One of them is a CAT CAFE. A cat cafe is a theme cafe whose attraction is cats that can be watched and played with. Patrons pay a cover fee, generally hourly, and hence cat cafes can be seen as a form of supervised indoor pet rental.
The world’s first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998.The Taiwanese cat cafe, located in Taipei, eventually became famous in Japan and began to attract many Japanese tourists as well as domestic visitors. In Japan, the first cat cafe opened in Osaka in 2004.
Cat cafes are quite popular in Japan, with Tokyo being home to at least 39 cat cafes. A pioneer is Cat’s Store (猫の店 Neko no Mise?), by HANADA Norimasa, which opened in 2005. The popularity of cat cafes in Japan is attributed to many apartments forbidding pets, and to cats providing relaxing companionship in what may otherwise be a stressful and lonesome urban life; other forms of pet rental are also common in Japan.
There are various cat cafes. Some cat cafes feature specific categories of cat such as black cats, fat cats, rare breed cats or ex-stray cats. A cat cafe must obtain a license and comply with the strict requirements and regulations of the Animal Treatment/Protection Law.
Japanese cat cafes feature strict rules to ensure cleanliness and animal welfare, in particular seeking to ensure that the cats are not disturbed by excessive and unwanted attention, such as by young children or when sleeping. Many cat cafes also seek to raise awareness of cat welfare issues, such as abandoned and stray cats.
Cat cafes have now spread to Seoul, South Korea where parents can come to the cafe and relax while their children play with cats in a supervised play area.
Other themed cafes let customers offer a good library of books and magazines, play board games such as Scrabble, Chess, Monopoly, get their nails and hair done, have their fortunes read…. imagination is the limit.
Wonder how USA and Canadian health authorities would look at a business like this. An interesting concept.