Gateway to Kitty Nirvana

This cat café is in the Decks entertainment complex in Odaiba

In a country where many people live in places too small for pets, cat cafés are a booming business. For about $10 an hour, anyone (over the age of 12) can sip a latte and pet herds of cats for as long as their wallets hold out or until their allergies kick in. The most famous of these, the Kaliko Cat Café – with branches in Shinjuku and Kichijōji – has around 50 cats. Most of them are purebred – Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Munchkin, Persian, Scottish Fold, Tabby, etc. plus a few typical Japanese calicos with half-length tails. At any time, 25 of them are off duty in the back room sleeping, and the other 25 are on duty at the café…well, sleeping.

Cat cafés draw a mixed clientele of lonely singles and couples on dates. There are always a few regulars, who just like to sit and read their papers with a latte, pretending they’re at home being snubbed by their very own cats.

Fat cats, skinny cats, longhaired cats, short-tailed cats, even cats wearing t-shirts are available to be petted and adored

Lattes are served upside down, with the coffee on top and the milk at the bottom, lest all the cats descend upon your drink like a flock of seagulls

Cat toy stations are strategically placed around the room, promising that if you’re really skillful, you might tempt a cat to acknowledge your existence.

The hardworking cats on duty at the Shinjuku Kaliko Café

The obliging Kichijōji Kaliko Café cats will happily disdain to acknowledge your existence, just as if they were your own!

A somewhat chubby example of a typical Japanese alley cat: calico tri-color with a short tail. This one’s tail is longer than most – usually they’re about half-length.

A Munchkin, sort of the Dachshund of cats

If you’d like to visit the Kaliko Cat Café the next time you’re in Tokyo, directions & a map are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I Had.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, now out for the first time in paperback

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