Back in January I decided to stop by a cat cafe with one of my coworkers after shopping on Myeongdong's famous Fashion Street for a little while. Apparently the first ever cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998.
It became incredibly popular with Japanese tourists, and the first one to grace Japan with its odd fuzzy goodness opened in Osaka in 2004.
I'm pretty sure owning cats and especially dogs as pets has become much more popular in Korea over the last few years, maybe as a status symbol for the middle class.
In cities like Tokyo and Seoul, though, most people live in cramped apartments, so owning a pet bigger than a hedgehog or even a prairie dog (yes, that's a thing) might be impossible.
With cat, dog, rabbit and even lamb cafes, people can enjoy a coffee, iced tea, soda, etc. and the company of animals at the same time. Everyone knows it's relaxing and therapeutic to pet and be around them, so I'm not sure why they aren't popular in trendy, progressive(r) places in the U.S. A novel, quirky concept that combines saving shelter animals with the enormous popularity of iced coffee sounds like a pretty good business model to me.
The mascots for these cafes are pretty easy to spot; we were wandering around looking for a lamb cafe or something really out there when we found this somewhat despondent dancing cat.
By the way, my coworker took about half of these photos, so thanks for letting me use them without asking! :D
The best cat was obviously the bald one in the little old man sweater. A nice English-speaking couple handed us a newly-opened packet of cat treats as we were on our way in and they were leaving, so we didn't have to buy our own. Even if we had, it would have been about 2,000 won. I think the cover and a drink of your choice runs about 8,000.
I still can't decide if the way this Korean girl was humiliating it is adorable or pitiful, but I'm pretty sure it's both.
And at long last, I've starting uploading videos to YouTube!
I've been wondering why these don't exist in the West, but look! There's one opening in London! I really doubt any of the animals in Korea and Japan come from shelters, but it'd be nice if they did; at least the ones in the UK will.