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. A pioneer is 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 cat cafés. Some cat cafés 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.
United Kingdom 
- 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
- Iwata, Mamiko, All About : Article on March 7, 2010 (Japanese)
News stories 
- 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