Everyone loves cats (and if you don’t, you’re a git). This has led to the rise of what is known as a cat café. In one of these, a batch of cats loiter about the place relaxing in splendour, whilst humans hang around with them and drink tea, or coffee, whilst indulging in carrot cake etc. The humans pay for all of that. The cats just bask in luxury. Oh, to be a cafe in a cat café.
There’s one in Manchester, which is where we got our header image from for this post (you can Meet The Cats if you want to stare at some cats). It’s located in the Northern Quarter just above the city centre. It opened last year and marked the city’s first cat café! But others have opened in London (unsurprisingly) and Nottingham (where we went to university).
The first cat café appears to have originated in 1998 in Taiwan – the shop was so popular the idea gained ground elsewhere. No big surprise for the cat crazy land of Nippon, cat cafés quickly became an enormous deal. In Osaka, the idea started in 2004 and there are now over 150 of the things across Japan.
Whilst there is some controversy over whether the cafés are a suitable home for cats, the animals do appear well cared for and happy in their environment. In Manchester, the cats were chosen specifically to be happy with social environments where lots of other cats and people would be hanging out. When it opened its doors in 2016, we visited and they all looked really chuffed.
But what is it with cats? Enigmatic, weird, moody, narcissistic, sporadically affectionate, lazy, bossy, smart, cool, serene, and a little bit peculiar, it’s as if they’ve been beamed down from a distant planet and made their home on Earth. Perhaps this is why they’re much loved, as they’re a catalogue of eccentricities wrapped around a cute exterior. We can’t fathom the cat, but we can admire its audacity.
The Future of Cats
Since the advent of the internet, the online world has been besieged by billions of cat pictures. The likes of Grumpy Cat dominate the market – she’s a celebrity that’s actually called Tardar Sauce, but due to her relentlessly stern expression (an underbite relating to feline dwarfism) she’s now more famous than the Queen of England.
Another is Maru, a Scottish Fold cat who lives in Japan. It’s not uncommon for Maru’s videos to hit 15 million views – in total, his videos have generated over 325 million views across the world (whilst his owner remains unseen in the clips). Why? Well, he’s obsessed with cardboard boxes and will go to great lengths to stuff himself into them, no matter how ridiculously small they are.
Finally, in case you’re packing your bags for a trip to Nippon for all this cat stuff, there’s an entire island with the things running riot. Tashirojima is a small island in the Miyagi Prefecture. There are even three cat islands in Japan, so you’ll have to pick carefully if you’re going over there. Or just enjoy the more urban delights of cat cafés, yeah?