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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.
Cat cafes are often used by those that cannot have cats in their own homes, for any reason whether this be for housing restrictions, living situations, those for whom a pet does not make sense (those who travel a lot or are in a temporary living situation), etc.
A cat cafe allows customers to enjoy many of the benefits of owning a cat.
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 and many often have cats from local animal shelters to help them lose any fear of humans and advertise them for possible adoption.
One café in Tokyo added goats as a way of having a unique element.
Ailuromania café is the first cat cafe in Dubai located on Jumeirah St. It's a normal coffee shop with cats freely roaming around.
- In Korea, there is a chain called "Cat Attic" (Korean: 고양이다락방) with 9 locations in Seoul and Busan. "Norie Cat" (Korean: 노리캣) opened in November 2012 in Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, with around 20 cats, and there are many other privately owned cat cafés, especially in Seoul and other major cities.
- In Malaysia, the "Purrfect Cat Café" opened in Georgetown, Penang. In February 2014 it had 8 cats.
- In Bangkok, the Purr Cat Café Club boasts fourteen Persians as well as a cat beautician and outfit shop.
- In Chiang Mai, the Catmosphere Cat Café features 12 cats as well as a space theme with space-cat related artwork.
- In Singapore, the first cat cafe is Neko no Niwa (www.catcafe.com.sg) at Boat Quay and the second Cat cafe was opened on 22 June 2014 (www.thecatcafe.sg). The biggest cat cafe in Singapore is Cuddles Cat Cafe at 2,500 square feet.
- In Austria, one of the first cat cafés in Europe, Cafe Neko, opened in Vienna.
- In Hungary, 'Cat Café Budapest' opened in February 2013, and another in March 2013 and CatCafe in June 2014.
- In Germany, Cafe Katzentempel in Munich and Pee Pees Katzencafe in Berlin opened in 2013 and Cafe Schnurrke in Cologne in 2014.
- In Spain, the first cat café "La Gatoteca", was opened on October 15, 2013 in Madrid. La Gatoteca.
- 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.
- The UK's first cat café, Totnes Cat Cafe, opened in South Devon, May 2013 and closed in May 2014 due to the owner being too sick. In London there is Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium cafe where one must make a reservation in order to visit.
- In Estonia, cat café Nurri was opened in Tallinn on October 16, 2014.
- The Cat cafe in Lithuania Cat Cafe Kačių kavinė opened in Vilnius on 30 October 2014.
- The first Cat Café in Italy, Neko Café, opened in Torino on 5 April 2014 
- The first Cat Café in the Netherlands opens in Amsterdam after a successful crowdfunding campaign.
- The first cat cafe in Scotland will open in January 2015. Maison de Moggy will open in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Two sisters are seeking to bring a second cat cafe into Edinburgh Scotland in Spring 2015. They say that the large student population and the number of housing units that don't allow pets make for a high number of residents who will want to enjoy a cup of coffee while interacting with a cat.
- Cafe Miao opened in Copenhagen
- Cat Time Cafe Social Point in Prague, opened in September 2014.
- The first Cat Café in Finland, Kissakahvila Purnauskis will open in Tampere in October 2014.
Several others are projected to open:
- Café Chat L'Heureux in Montreal opened in September 2014, crowdfunded through Indiegogo.
- In Vancouver, British Columbia, plans for a location called Catfé were announced in early 2014. Pending location, Catfe is set to open in summer 2015. 
- Toronto's cat café, Kitty Cat Cafe, is projected to open in September 2014. Kitty Cat Cafe has launched a crowd funding campaign to help with the development costs www.kittycatcafe.ca
- Toronto's Pet Me Meow, recently launched Canada's first Pop-Up Cat Café and is scheduled to open a permanent location early fall 2014. Partnered with Toronto Cat Rescue, Pet Me Meow will host rescue cats you can play with and adopt.
- The Cat Town Café, an expansion of the Oakland based rescue group Cat Town, opened on October 25, 2014 at 2869 Broadway in Oakland, CA making it the first cat café in the US.
- The second cat cafe' in the United States, Planet Tails Cat Cafe', opened in Naples, Florida on December 3, 2014. The adoptable cats are from Domestic Animal Services. Planet Tails Cat Cafe' 
- Denver Cat Company is located in the West Highlands neighborhood of Denver and opened on December 12th 2014. It was the third cat cafe to open in the United States. It was featured on Colorado's 9News.
- The Cat Cafe, located in San Diego, California opened in December 2014. It was featured on San Diego 6's Wake Up San Diego on January 7, 2015 and on Fox5 San Diego on January 8, 2015
- In Portland, Oregon, Purringtons Cat Lounge opened its doors January 24th 2015 to lines around the block. Serving house made small bites and featuring local brews and wines.
- Ohio has at least three cat cafes coming: Cleveland Cat Cafe, PurrTeas in Columbus, Ohio  and Catmosphere  (hoping to open with a liquor license!) in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Little Lions in NYC reached its crowdfunding goal of $65,000 and is set to open in 2015.
- New York City garnered fame for cat cafes with a Purina-sponsored pop-up.
- Meow Parlour opened in NYC in December 2014, after achieving its crowdfunding goal on December 2nd, 2014. It is the first permanent cat cafe in NYC.
- KitTea's crowd funding campaign achieved its goal, with over 800 people contributing more than $50,000
- In Seattle, Washington, Seattle Meowtropolitan is planning to open its doors in mid 2015, and Seattle Kitty Kafe is planned to open in 2015.
- In November 2014, an entrepreneur announced she is launching a Kickstarter campaign to open a cat cafe, to be called "Crumbs and Whiskers", in Washington DC in mid-2015.
- Le Chat Noir Cat Café, Boston has launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign They will also offer adoptions and they hope to open their doors by November 15, 2015.
- In January 2015, an entrepreneur announced she is in the process of starting a cat cafe in Burlington, Vermont
- The Cafe Meow, another prospective cat cafe, has announced its plan to open in Minneapolis Minnesota in 2016. They have an informational site up at thecafemeow.com .
- In the United States two cat cafés are scheduled to open in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014.
- Calico Nook is planned to open in Franklin, MA in the spring of 2015, making it the first of it's kind in New England.
- In Melbourne, Victoria, Australia's first Cat café, Cat Café Melbourne opened on July 30, 2014.
- In Adelaide, 21 Magill Road, Stepney, Paws & Claws Adoptions opened a Cat Cafe Concept on 9th April 2014. The concept was to be a "lounge Room" type environment, where cats could wander freely, while patrons could enjoy a coffee, and a light refreshment, while interacting with cats. Despite several attempts to get a Food & Beverage component to the Cafe, unfortunately it is instant coffee, tea and biscuits only.
- 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)
- "Tokyo's rabbit cafes hopping with customers." The Japan Times. February 16, 2012. Retrieved on July 13, 2013.
- Iwata, Mamiko, All About : Article on March 7, 2010 (Japanese)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cat cafés.|
- Tokyo's cat cafes, Global Post
- Cat cafe soothes Tokyo's busy feline lovers, Reuters
- Tokyo's cat cafes offer serenity in the city, Christian Science Monitor
- San Diego Cat Cafe Could be First in Country NBC 7 San Diego
- "A cat café in Vancouver: The fuzzy face of economic diversity". The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- Cat Cafe Planned for the Capital
- Cat Cafe Review Bangkok