A cat café is a theme café whose attraction is cats who 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.
"Cat café" has been officially recognized in the online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English since August 2015.
The world's first cat café, "Cat Flower Garden", opened in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998 and eventually became a global tourist destination.
Cats are permitted to jump onto tables and even onto the patrons, and snacks for them can be purchased in the café. The café's patrons are mostly young Taiwanese and Japanese tourists, and a minimum drink fee is required in order to enter the café.
The menu offers a wide range of edibles, including cat-shaped biscuits, and the café's shelves are stocked with cat books. Following its success, other cat cafes have opened in Taipei, with over a dozen currently in existence there, plus many others elsewhere in the world.
The concept blossomed in Japan, where the first one named "Neko no Jikan" was opened in Osaka in 2004. Due to Japan's land size and population, many residents live in small apartments or condominiums which do not allow pets, making a cat café a very popular destination for young workers looking for the companionship and comfort offered. Tokyo's first cat café, named "Neko no mise", opened in 2005. After this, the popularity of cat cafés boomed in Japan. From 2005 to 2010, seventy-nine cat cafés opened across the country.
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