A cat café is a theme café whose attraction is cats that can be watched and played with. Patrons pay a cover fee, generally hourly, and thus cat cafés can be seen as a form of supervised indoor pet rental.
The world's first cat café[f 1] opened in Taiwan in 1998. The Taiwanese cat café, located in Taipei, eventually became famous in Japan and began to attract many Japanese tourists as well as domestic visitors. In Japan, the first cat café[f 2] opened in Osaka in 2004.
Cat cafés are quite popular in Japan, with Tokyo being home to at least 39 cat cafés. The first was Cat's Store (猫の店 Neko no Mise?), by Norimasa Hanada, which opened in 2005. The popularity of cat cafés in Japan is attributed to many apartments forbidding pets, and to cats providing relaxing companionship in what may otherwise be a stressful and lonesome urban life. Other forms of pet rental, such as rabbit cafes, are also common in Japan.
There are various types of cat café. Some feature specific categories of cat such as black cats, fat cats, rare breed cats or ex-stray cats. A cat café must obtain a license and comply with the strict requirements and regulations of the Animal Treatment/Protection Law.
Japanese cat cafés feature strict rules to ensure cleanliness and animal welfare, in particular seeking to ensure that the cats are not disturbed by excessive and unwanted attention, such as by young children or when sleeping. Many cat cafés also seek to raise awareness of cat welfare issues, such as abandoned and stray cats.
One café in Tokyo added goats as a way of having a unique element.
- In Austria, one of the first cat cafés in Europe, Cafe Neko, opened in Vienna.
- In Korea, cat café "Norie Cat" (Korean: 노리캣) opened in November 2012 in Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, with around 20 cats.
- In March 2012 the first planning application for a cat café in the UK was lodged. This had to be withdrawn as the original site became unavailable. After the second planning application was passed for a new site, the UK's first cat café opened in May 2013, in Totnes, Devon. In December 2012, a campaign to open a cat café in London, England was launched. The café will be populated by rescue cats, and building work is under way.
- In Hungary, one 'Cat Café Budapest' opened in February 2013, and another in March 2013.
- In Germany, Cafe Katzentempel in Munich and Pee Pees Katzencafe in Berlin opened this 2013.
- The first cat café in Spain, La Gatoteca, opened on October 15, 2013.
- In France, a cat café opened in Paris. "Le Café des Chats", in the Marais district, has formerly abandoned and homeless cats roaming around, for what the owner calls "purr therapy". The first weekend drew a record crowd, with bookings for the next two months.
- In the United States two cat cafés are scheduled to open in California in 2014.
- Canada's first cat café, Café Chat l’Heureux, is scheduled to open this summer in Montreal, Quebec and in Vancouver, British Columbia, plans for a location called Catfé are in the works for Fall 2014.
- In Malaysia, the "Purrfect Cat Café" opened in Georgetown, Penang. In February 2014 it had 8 cats.
- The first cat café in London, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, is due to open on 1 March 2014.
- The cat cafe in Lithuania Cat Cafe Kačių kavinė is scheduled to open in Vilnius in May 2014.
- In Bangkok, the Purr Cat Café Club boasts fourteen Persians as well as a cat beautician and outfit shop. 
- named "貓花園" (Cat Flower Garden) - Nikkei BP, May 2, 2008
- named "猫の時間" (Neko no Jikan, literally "Cat's Time") - Nikkei BP, May 2, 2008
- Nikkei BP : Article on May 2, 2008 (Japanese)
- ASCII : Article on August 19, 2007 (Japanese)
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- Iwata, Mamiko, All About : Article on March 7, 2010 (Japanese)
- "Tokyo cafe employs goats to add 'wow factor' - video." Reuters at The Guardian. July 11, 2013. Retrieved on July 13, 2013.
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- D'Alimonte, Michael. "Montreal Opens First Ever North American Cat Café". MTL Blog. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
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- Jackson, Emily. "Cat café coming to Vancouver in fall 2014". metronews. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- "Exclusive: London’s first cat café is finally opening its doors". Time Out. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- "Vilniaus centre kurs kačių kavinę". Time Out. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
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