There was a ton of buzz last month when a pop-up cat cafe opened for a week on the Bowery. Seriously, this thing was like front page news, with people live-tweeting updates about how long the wait times were and how far the line was wrapping around the block. I’m pretty sure I saw one publication that called the cafe’s doorman/bouncer “the most powerful man in New York”. It was an Event.
I probably would have been swept up in all the hoopla myself (standing on a 4-hour line to pet cats? I’ve done crazier things), except that in total hipster fashion, I went to a cat cafe before they were cool.
In Tokyo, where the fad originated, of course! After finding a flyer for the nearby Cat Cafe Asakusa Nekoen at my hostel, I decided to go check the place off and dragged one of my new friends with me. (A few other people staying there were interested as well, but I may have gone slightly crazy cat lady on them and scared everyone away. Don’t judge me.)
There are dozens of cat cafes in Tokyo, but this particular one seemed pretty mom-and-pop, almost like a room in someone’s house rather than a business, with the focus definitely on the cats rather than the cafe. That was totally fine with me, though — drinks were available, but we didn’t end up purchasing any. I can get coffee anywhere. I was there for a specific purpose… one that involved cuddling as many fluffy piles of adorable as possible.
This place was pretty much exactly what I needed. I sat on the floor surrounded by cats, looking totally euphoric and goofy as Josh, who accompanied me, played photographer while sitting somewhat stiffly on the sofa. (I think maybe the whole thing weirded him out a little.) There were at least 15 or 20, I think, and a variety of ages. In bins along the wall were every kind of toy imaginable, and you can buy treats to feed the kitties, though we didn’t because they were ¥100 apiece and I felt like I would have had to buy one for every cat rather than play favorites. The woman who ran the cafe was super friendly and told us how all the cats there are rescues and some are available for adoption. She also explained about the unusual curled and stubby tails that many of the cats there exhibited. I had previously thought that they’d been hit by cars or had suffered some other type of accident, but apparently it’s just a genetic mutation that distinguishes many Asian breeds.
I took way too many photos as usual, so feel free to stop reading here unless you have the irrepressible urge to see me dorking out in a huge way.