The first cat café outside Asia has just opened and is already a hit.
Café Neko (Neko is the Japanese word for cat) is in Vienna, Austria, and opened only after three years of negotiations with city authorities. Six shelter cats — Moritz, Luca, Haru, Momo, Sonia and Thomas — are resident and patrons can play with and stroke the cats. The cats have their own private spaces, including baskets and shelves if they get tired of all the attention.
Joint café owner Takako Ishimitsu says that for many who, for whatever reason, cannot have a cat at home, it’s perfect and great relaxing therapy.
“I had various ideas, and the cat café project was the least difficult to realize. And at the same time, I can do something good for the Vienna animal shelter which I have been supporting for years,” Ishimitsu said.
The world’s first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998. After it proved a hit with Japanese tourists, a café was opened in Osaka and now there are 39 in Tokyo.
Unlike in Vienna, in Tokyo you pay a cover fee, generally hourly. Like in Vienna, dogs are banned.
Some feature specific categories of cat such as black cats, fat cats, rare breed cats or ex-stray cats. A Japanese cat café must obtain a license and comply with the strict requirements and regulations of the Animal Treatment/Protection Law.
However, as we reported in March, the future of those cafés may be under threat due to a law change. The law puts a curfew on cat cafés forcing them to close at 8p.m. instead of 10p.m.
Café owners say the felines sleep all day and come to life in the evenings when customers arrive for playtime. They worry about how they will provide for their animals if business falls off.
Commented Llewellyn Sinclair on coffee news website Sprudge.com:
omg omg omg omg. Turns out dreams do come true.
We can’t wait to spend time at Cafe Neko while in Vienna for the 2012 World Barista Championship.
Watch a BBC report:
Picture: BBC screengrab