What’s a Neko café?

A Neko café is a particular type of caffetteria which allows the clients to see and interact with cats, actually cats are the main attraction of these locals, they are like the owners of it.

The term Neko comes from Japanese and means cat, in fact a Neko cafe can also be called a cat cafe. The idea was born in China but in the last years we’ve seen a big influence and diffusion also in the West, there are a lot of cat cafés in Europe as well as in America.

Cat cafes started in China, more precisely,in Taiwan in 1998 and it became popular not just among the local visitors, but it attracted many visitors also from Japan. These types of cafes represented something new for people, and everyone loved the idea. One of the Japanese tourists took the idea back to Japan, and the fist Japanese Neko cafe opened in Osaka in 2004. After, this cat cafe chains began to grow throughout the Japanese territory, and has become a really famous trend in the country.

The popularity of the cafes is due to the fact that in Japan many apartments forbid pet ownership, and this type of locale gives people the chace to interact with cats which helps them to relieve the stress of a busy urban life. In fact it has been scientifically proven that cats help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Spending time with and taking care of a cat helps to lower anxiety levels and so it has a calming effect on the heart.

Generally Neko cafes choose a management of the local that ensures the health and the well-being of both the cats and the customers. Every cafe has its own rules but most of them are the same in every location.

In a Neko cafe petting the cats is allowed, but picking up the cats is not. The only exception is when the cat comes to you of its own accord. The cats must not be fed outside food. Photography inside the cafe and of the cats is permitted, but flash photography is not allowed.

If you want to go and eat in one of these cafes you have to follow a precise procedure.

First you’re given a menu with rules that keep the cats safe and happy. After that you have to remove your footwear and change into the provided indoor slippers, and lastly you also have to sanitize your hands with alcohol spray before moving to where the cats are, this room is built to be a massive playground for the cats, there are a lot of kennels, scratching trees and many funny games for them. Later when you have finished your time with cats and maybe your coffee you have to return to the entrance to pay for the time spent there and anything else you may have ordered.

In the last few years cat cafes have spread throughout the world. The first cat cafe in Europe opened in Vienna in 2012 in March, and it’s called “Cafe Neko”. After that many others cat cafe have opened all around Europe and they are arrived also in Italy with “MiaGola cafe” which started its business in Turin on March 22, 2014.

Instead the first two Neko cafés in North America were “Café Chat L’Heureux” and “Cafe des Chats”, which opened in Montréal in 2014.

Neko cafes are a lovely form of entertainment that can relive stress!

Sara Ferrari 3AL