Cat lovers in Tokyo, Japan, who are unable to own pets because of housing regulations can rent one instead at Cat Cafe Calico:

Visitors to Calico pay 800 yen an hour or 2,000 yen for three hours in a big room where 14 well-brushed and shampooed cats hang out. After a thorough handwash, the visitor can play with the cats, read comics or just relax.

The clean, odourless cafe -- Calico has six air fresheners and the litter trays are out of sight -- gets about 70 visitors a day during the week and 150 a day at weekends.

"I want everyone to forget about their jobs and relax," Fukui said, adding that the majority of visitors to Calico are working women and children, and about 70 percent overall don't own cats due to allergies or housing regulations.

Link (Photo: Reuters/Michael Caronna) - via Happy LOL Day

Previously on Neatorama: Flexible Ownership of ... Pets!

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Oh, and depending on the cat cafe, cats may or may not be shelter cats. Calico seems to specialize in purebreds (Maine coons, Scottish folds, munchkins, etc), but some others around the country do get theirs through adoption.
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I have been to Calico a couple of times in the past year, and it seems like business has really taken off since this blog was written. I think the last time I went, there were about fifty cats living at Calico. They're all treated really well and groomed nicely. It's a surprisingly clean place considering all of the cats running around.
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I guess I do agree with both Jon and Sid Morrison in certain things. Shelter cats are as awesome as a breed cat. But like Jon said, you won't find certain cats in a shelter. I own 4 cats. My first 2 are sweet, peaceful persians that hardly jump to any of my bookshelves. Then I have my beautiful shelter cat that is a ball of never-ending energy and makes sure that the others excercise enough and heh, I do have a cute Scottish Fold that is so quiet sometimes I have to make sure he's alive! XD But neither of my cats were adults when they joined my house. They were all kittens when I picked them, including my shelter loveheart. I sort of agree with Sid Morrison about the "personality" thing, but the thing with kittens is that it was easier for them to know me and get used to my world.

I also agree with isbjorn, but at least where I live, the government FORBIDS that "regular" people volunteer for shelters. They only allow people with veterinarian education to do this. Obviously all vet students are volunteer in our shelters.
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The really funny part is that at most shelters/pounds you can do almost the same thing for free! It's called vollenteering and while the shelters may not be the fanciest of places it's good for both you and the animals.
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