DO NOT DISTURB… the sleeping cats.

There are many cafes and theme-restaurants throughout Japan catering to all sorts of customers with specific needs.  Cat Cafe Calico, located in Tokyo, offers patrons the chance to experience what it’s like to have a pet without the hassle of cleaning up after it. We had the chance to visit a Calico during a recent trip to Japan.

One must pay for time with the felines (1000 yen for 1 hr),  review the rules, put their shoes and belongings in a locker, slip on some indoor slippers and wash their hands. All these precautions are to keep the cats safe from outside germs.

Although the idea of a cafe devoted to cats might seem bizzare to the foreigner, cat cafes are actually a pretty practical idea, for those who for whatever reason are unable to own a pet.

Research suggests petting an animal like a dog or cat can relieve stress — which in the Japanese workforce must be quite high — what’s not to like about having a soft, furry cat .

The cats of  Cafe Calico have 2 floors to call home. Floor 5 is where you can order food and drink.  While the sixth floor is littered with a few Cat toys,  a TV and videogames. The Nintendo Wii was off while we were there, and good thing too, as I cannot imagine trying to play the Wii with Cats running around.

Cat food and litter pan were hidden in a different space that only the cats (and staff) could access to keep the place looking nice and clean.

Not only were these very cute, well groomed and cared for cats, they were also of various special breeds those with specific genetic mutations.

Like an aged fine wine, these are not your typical street cats, the Munchkin breed was common in the cafe, similar to a Welsh Corgi dog breed. The other cats must have been jealous of his short legs because they kept bullying him.

Another Cat was a Scottish fold with ears bended forward and down towards his head.

The majority of the cats were active, running around and playing with the toys, play fighting or hiding from their human visitors.

Although they were all very healthy in appearance, it seemed some cats did not want to be touched, and would arch their back as you tried to pet them.  For those that were asleep, we tried to observe the “No touching sleeping cats” rule, but the other patrons in the cat cafe still did it anyway.

After about 30 minutes the cats would eventually warm up to new guests. You really need to approach them slowly, and give them a chance to come up to you. Probably best to just order that coffee, have a seat, read a magazine and the Cat will come and nuzzle up against you.

There is also the option of buying their interest and attention with food. On Floor 5, you can buy some chicken and feed the cats. A few people did this and the cats went crazy, meowing, purring and circling around them for food.

Next time you’re in Tokyo, come have a coffee and relax with some fine felines.

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