Cat Cafés; Cute or Commiserable?

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Cat Cafe

The world’s first cat cafe, Cats’ Garden, was opened to the public in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998. The concept soon gained international attention and blossomed in Japan, where dense population in urban areas huddles in the small living space of apartments that ban pets.

Such cat-themed cafes has become particularly popular among young workers who are too wrecked and broke to afford the fluffy comfort. For similar reasons, these themed cafes have been a huge success in China since their first opening iearlier this decade. Search “cat-theme cafes” on Dianping, China’s online equivalent to the Yellow Pages, and thirty-six different cafes in the locality pop up on screen.

Like many cat lovers, The Nanjinger visited one of the top-ranked cat cafes on the 30th floor of the Xinbai Department Store in Xinjiekou, and learned that cafe patrons, mostly women, pay more for their coffee as a cover charge. A glass of insipid latte, for instance, is ¥40. While we waited for the transaction on Alipay, a twenty-something service woman, dressed in a French maid’s outfit, required us in a voice of a five-year-old to put out our hands so she could squeeze sanitizer on us.

The cafe is contrary to commodious for four American shorthair, three English shorthair, three Scottish folds, a Garfield, and three 4-month-old kittens. While the little ones, as yet unneutured, are still curious and engaged with their surroundings, their aunts and uncles are generally too chafed to respond. The older cats, being too lazy to run, are taken by the waist to the perfumed breasts of their visitors, who do not let go until they find the perfect angle for a selfie that captures their heart-shaped face next to the eye-rolling creature, deprived of its arrogant trait as a cat.

If adults visitors are plain morons, children are downright rankling. While The Nanjinger was present, a girl trailed a kitten along the table back and forth and shook old cats out of their slumbers, making made them go berserk.

“To be on the level with you, these cats buy me some peace and quiet”, said a mother who sat in a far off corner, minding her own business. When asked why she did not let her daughter have her own pet, the woman took a second taking her eyes off her phone and looking me in the eye. “Like cleaning up after her isn’t enough work for me? Look at her; I’d be damned if she didn’t torture the poor animal to death a week later. Why should I spend a few thousand yuan to have a corpse to clean out?”