Updated: May 13, 2017
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The phenomenon of the cat cafés has morphed and expanded all over the globe. The genesis of the cat café occurred in Taiwan, in 1998 with Cat Flower Garden. The concept took root in Japan, especially in big cities like Tokyo where flats are small and regulations against pets are strict.
The cat cafés captured an untapped market of apartment dwelling animal lovers who yearned for a furry friend in their lives. Soon tourists began to flock to these destinations as well. Neko no Jikan (Cat's Time) opened in Osaka in 2004 followed by Tokyo's first cat café, Neko no mise (Shop of Cats) in 2005. The popularity of these cozy cafés filled with feline friends skyrocketed and now there are over thirty-nine cat cafés in Tokyo and more than eighty spread throughout Japan mostly in urban centers.
Enterprising Japanese café proprietors expanded on the original concept and now there are cafés featuring dozens of other species such as rabbits, dogs, birds, and a host of reptiles. The tidal wave of popularity has washed over the shores of Asia, Europe and North America. From Japan to Thailand, Belgium to Russia and from Canada to the United States cat cafés dot the urban landscape, providing a unique bonding opportunity with our furry friends all over the globe.
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