Origin of Cat Cafes
Cat cafes originated in Taiwan, with one opening in Taipei in 1998. The cafe became popular with Japanese tourists as well as local visitors, who enjoyed the opportunity to interact with some furry friends.
Expansion to Japan
One of the Japanese tourists took the idea back to Japan, and the first Japanese cat cafe opened its doors in Osaka in 2004. They’ve become very popular in Japan, with Tokyo home to at least 39. Japan as a whole has over 150 cat cafes. Because many apartments in Japan forbid pet ownership, the popularity of the cafes has been attributed to a desire to interact with cats to help relieve the stress of a busy urban life.
Many people attribute the growth of cat cafes to tourists. But step outside the areas where tourists visit, and you’ll see lots of Japanese businessmen happily playing with cats as a way to relax and forget about work for a while.
Growth Throughout the World
Since then, cat cafes have spread throughout the world. You can now find them in Korea, Austria, Spain, Hungary, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Cat cafes moved into North America in 2014, with the first one opening in Montreal. Oakland was next, and then came to New York. When we opened The Cat Cafe in January 2015, we became the fifth cat cafe in the United States.
Cat Cafes in the United States
Within the United States, compliance with food service regulations has been a challenge. The Japanese are known for being a very clean society. They allow cat cafes to serve food and drink in the area where the cats are. But sadly, that’s not how it works in the United States.
The Cat Cafe had to separate the cat playpen, where the cats are, from the coffee bar. And that’s why we have a design that we don’t really like. We have multiple doors and a wall separating our coffee bar from the cats.
The Cat Playpen at The Cat Cafe
Once you step inside the cat playpen, however, you’ll forget all about the design challenges as you enjoy your drink with our friendly cats.