Japan's Rent-a-Pet Cafes Are All the Rage
People can pay by the hour to hang out with felines in cat cafes
In a culture where long work hours and small apartments are the norm, it can be hard to keep a pet. But feline aficionados in some Japanese cities have a novel alternative: the cat cafe.
For an hourly fee, deprived cat lovers can hang out with kitties, read a magazine and have a cup of coffee in a comfortable, living room-like setting.
Although there are customers of all ages, the majority are young people — most of whom live in apartments that don't allow pets — and some of these cafes have even morphed into popular date spots.
Since the first cat cafe opened in the mid-2000s, they've exploded in popularity, with about 150 of them now in operation nationwide.
Next Frontier: Cafes for Critters of All Kinds
The idea has expanded to other types of animals, the newest trend being rabbit cafes, with several opening recently in Tokyo. Even lovers of the less cuddly are beginning to get their chance: A reptile cafe has opened in Yokohama, featuring snakes, tortoises, geckos, bearded dragons and some newts thrown into the mix for amphibian admirers.
These new cafes are a bit different from the cat versions, where felines wander freely. Rabbits are kept in cages and are only let out when customers come in for a cuddle. Many of the residents of the reptile cafe can't be touched by customers — they're on display, like at a zoo — but you can pet the tortoises (just be sure to wash your hands before and after).
But even the cat cafes aren't a free-for-all. Most have specific rules when it comes to interacting with the animals. You're not allowed to hold or pet a cat against her will or wake a cat who's sleeping. And kittens who wear scarves are too young to be held.
The owner of at least one rabbit cafe sees her mission as partly humanitarian. Rabbits have become a trendy pet in Japan, but people often don't educate themselves before buying bunnies, leading to an uptick in homeless pet rabbits. At the cafe, prospective owners can learn how to properly care for rabbits — and get the lowdown on what it really means to own one.
Earlier Closing Times Could Mean Less Cuddle Time
Despite their cult popularity, starting June 1, a new revision of Japan's animal protection laws will force these cafes to shutter at 8 p.m. Owners and customers are in an uproar, since many patrons don't arrive until after work — right around 8 p.m.
An editorial in the English-language Japan Times decries the new regulation, pointing out the educational value of the cafes in a country where euthanasia rates for abandoned pets are high — not to mention the mental health benefits of interacting with animals. As the writer laments, "excessive interference in the cafes means one less healthy, relaxing activity for a hardworking populace."
What do you think? Are these cafes harmful to animals and should be banned? Or do you think there is an educational and cultural benefit to having them? Tell us in the comments below.
More from Vetstreet
- Top 10 High-Maintenance Dogs
- 6 Foods to Never Give Your Pet
- Secret Lives of Cats: 9 Things They Won’t Tell You
- Why Does My Dog… Stare at Me?
- Most Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains
pics, advice, info and stories for pet lovers
The strong bonds that dogs can form are undeniable.
Think you know your pet’s every unspoken wish? Think again. Your pet is unlikely to be capable of communicating her wants and needs in ways you might assume she would. Even those of you most in touch with your pets' feelings are likely missing a few cues here and there.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever made both our readers' and veterinary professionals' lists of breeds that love the water.
You might proudly call yourself a dog owner, pet parent or canine guardian, but let’s be real: Your dog owns you. You might be laughing now, but think about it — you've surrendered the best seat on the sofa to him, you plan your entire weekend around his trips to the dog park, and you take him to the groomer more often than you get your own hair cut. And let's not forget who's in every photo on your Facebook and Instagram feeds. Sound familiar? We thought so. But in case you still think you're in charge, here are seven classic signs that your dog is the one calling the shots.
One of the best things about being a veterinarian is all the different dogs I get to meet. Of course, I love the Labs and Beagles and Boxers and Poodles, not to mention those crazy Canine Cocktails, or what my parents used to call Heinz 57s. They are among the more popular dogs out there, and I see a lot of them. In fact, it used to be that it was rare to see anything else. Here are nine dog breeds I sometimes see now that I didn’t see in the past.
We asked veterinary experts and readers which breeds they think and if it is OK to shave longhaired pets in the summer.
If you're searching for a breed that may enjoy the company of a kid, we have some great suggestions for you.
When searching for the right dog to add to your family, your first instinct might be to bring home a tiny little thing that your kids can cradle in their laps. But we're here to remind you that the best fit for you may be a large dog breed.
Many breeds were developed to do work that required them to act independently. Those dogs tend to be smart, but as family pets, they may need more leadership and training than others. Ultimately, though, they’re worth it. Here are 11 dog breeds that tend to have independent personalities.
Many of us here at Vetstreet are fascinated by pets who have unique coats and cool shapes hidden in their markings. So we asked our Facebook fans to share pictures of animals that have interesting coloration, and you did not disappoint. From mustachioed cats to a horse of a different color, here are our 13 favorite photos of pets with cool coats.
We surveyed 284 veterinary professionals (including vets, veterinary technicians and office staff) to see which breeds they felt were most likely to chew something they shouldn't and wind up in the veterinary emergency room, and we've listed the top five answers below. Do you agree with their opinions? Which breeds would you add to the list?
This Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate with the sights and sounds of fireworks. While we love the pyrotechnics, it's important to remember that our patriotic midsummer spectacular is no holiday for many of our pets.