Animal Cafes Offer Drinks and Companionship

An interesting new trend has cropped up in Japan: animal cafes. There are over 100 cafes where customers can have tea, coffee and pastries while petting cats, rabbits, dogs, birds, and even goats in some places. There are several reasons for the emergence of such establishments. One is the decline in the number of adults with children. Many adults in the 20-30 age range are unmarried or in a relationship without children. Visiting an animal cafe is a social, almost familiar experience without the responsibilities of taking care of a companion animal. Other customers want pets at home, but their jobs consume too much time to care for a pet. Some rental agreements forbid pets, a fact that also generates customers at these cafes. “I want to keep a rabbit at home, but I can’t because my job keeps me away for many hours,” said Azusa Komagata. (Source: The Sacramento Bee)

These cafes have caused some concern from the government. One issue is that animals can transmit diseases like salmonella and bacteria coliform. Another issue is that some of the cafes haven’t yet registered with the government to exhibit animals. Since some cafes charge an admission fee (in addition to beverage fees), they are considered “exhibition” facilities.

On the plus side, some of these cafes have worked with rescue organizations to help animals. For example, a cafe called Ekoneko is working with the non-profit Little Cats to help match cats with owners. Seventeen kittens were saved from euthanization, and now live in the cafe.

Petting animals is both a bonding activity as well as a way to self-soothe, which is a healthy way to relieve stress. “For touch we can self-soothe by petting animals, rubbing lotion on our body, or cuddling with a blanket on the couch. Self-soothing is a wonderful way to nurture yourself and help to create resilience from intense emotions. Some people resist self-soothing out of guilt or feelings they do not deserve to pamper themselves, so it is important to detract from these rationalizations and emphasize skill development.” (Source: Tara Arnold, Licensed Social Worker)

Self-soothing can be a regular practice to maintain a low-stress lifestyle, but it doesn’t depend on companion animals. People can learn to self-sooth on their own through activities like regular relaxing exercise such as yoga, making art work, walking in parks, getting a massage, deep-breathing, tai chi and meditation. Unhealthy forms of self-soothing are drinking too many alcoholic beverages, overeating, smoking and excessive shopping.

It isn’t surprising that animal cafes would be popular in a mega-city like Tokyo which can be very expensive, crowded and stressful. What do you think? Are animal cafes a good idea?

Rabbit Cafe

Cat Cafe

Image Credit: sprklg

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Julie Botsch
Julie Botsch5 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Michele Wilkinson

I would visit!
I think it is a great idea

Lindsey Williams
Lindsey Williams8 years ago

Strange...but cool! thanks

Craig H.
Past Member 8 years ago

Interesting concept. Since non-service animals are not allowed in establishments where food is being served (in America, anyhow) I don't foresee this happening here. I would love to visit a place where I can get food, beverage and a bird to hold.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener8 years ago

Cats aren't very social by nature, so how does that work? Hissy fits and hairballs everywhere?

Anneliese B.
Anneliese B8 years ago

What a great idea. Makes sense. Those animals really have the life! I love how the kitties just soak up all the attention....I would!

Doris Chetcuti
Doris Chetcuti8 years ago

So good to know, animals are being cared for,

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers8 years ago

What a great idea!
I am always pleased to see bowls of water left outside of cafes and shops in the summertime for our four legged friends.

Karilyn K.
Karilyn K8 years ago

how nice it's like a no-kill shelter with people visiting : )