Thursday, October 1, 2015

Travel: Neko Cafe

    Traveling the world while owning pets can get tricky.  For our trek across the Pacific we were very fortunate to find someone to care for our cats while we're away.  They're really hateful, cantankerous cats.  We adopted them when an acquaintance of ours was moving to Japan and didn't want to take them with him. 
    We thought it would be great for the kids to have pets, and we were told that if we didn't take them, they'd be going to a shelter.  Turns out these cats, raised in a child free home, really, really hated kids.  Their interim caregiver informs me that they are thriving in her home (also child free) where they have their own room and can curl up and watch Downton Abbey with her in the evenings.  So, they're happy, but we miss having pets.  Not those pets specifically, just pets.
    We're trying to make the most of our time here, so we're frequently away from home for days at a time.  It's really only possible because we don't have to worry about pets at home.  At the animal adoption places here, puppies tend to run about $1000, so that's out of the question even if we were looking to adopt.  After so long without pets though, we were pretty desperately in need of a cuddly animal fix.
    Then we heard about the animal cafes here in Japan.  To date we have found locations for an Owl Cafe, a Rabbit Cafe and a Cat (Neko) Cafe, but we unanimously agreed that what would really be nice is to just pet some kitties for a while.  We planned the trip for a mid week day and hopped on a train to spend an hour with some lovable cats, and we were not disappointed by the experience.

The Cafe part of the name is true.  Before entering the kitty room, we were seated at a table and ordered drinks and selected cookies from the menu and chose the package that came with one hour of kitty time.  The cookies are baked at a separate, cat-free, hair-free, location and individually wrapped.  Maybe it's just because I don't often buy bakery cookies, but they were really good.  On the wall in the petting room is another kind of menu.   A large photo of each cat with an information card for telling their names and ages etc.
 Most of the cats prefer to nap on this plush heated rug, but in a pinch any spot will do.

This little guy, who hopped in this box to snuggled with his pink elephant, was one of my favorites.
Even though these cats spend their day getting held and petted, they were so loving and friendly and some seemed almost attention starved.

 This really is a happy place, for cats and visitors alike, a sort of meditation to quietly sit in the sun in comfort together.
 This little guy crawled in my lap and was quite happy to stay there for the rest of our hour.  It was very hard not to fall in love and ask to take one or two home with us.

For a few extra yen, visitors can purchase a small bag of treats to give the kitties.  These cats still have their claws and feeding time brought a frenzy of wild-eyed felines pawing at hubby's legs.

At the end of our hour, we gathered up our cookies and complimentary calendars featuring a year full of these little guys.  We stopped on the way out to wash up and have a quick roll-down with the complimentary lint rollers at the door. Although it can be a bit pricey (up to $17 per person) we had a wonderful time and are so glad we found this little place.

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