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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!

As a cat lover myself I think this is a great idea. I'm sure we'll see some copy cat places in the states in no time, unless we already have some in the U.S.
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Actually this is pretty common. Cafés where you can pay hourly for playing with cats or dogs or take dogs for a walk etc. One of the more innocent things you can pay hourly for in Japan...
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For those wondering about the cat-

Cats with folded ears like that are "Scottish Folds". I would love to have one, but I would never get a cat from a breeder when I could get one from a local shelter. Unfortunately, you don't see folds in places like that very often.
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Thanks for the info. I also happen to agree with you as far as sourcing felines goes. We've currently got 3 former shelter cats -- all great critters and over the years have had other strays / shelter adoptees as well.

Besides the humanitarian aspect of rescuing a critter from a pound/shelter AND the sustantial cost savings aspect, there is a practical point as well -- it's MUCH more effective to gauge to "personality" of a potential adult cat adoptee rather than a kitten (such as one typical gets from a breeder).

That "fold" is a cute one though ... no denying that.
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Hai catizen!
Well I still have one bone to pick with this kinda sorta... Where do the cats come from? Breeders or shelters? The cat cafe idea would be perfect to promote shelter/stray care and adoption, even though it seems that the whole point of the thing is *not* owning a cat.
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Why promote buying from shelters to people who can't own the pets because of housing regulations?

What they should do is push for change so that more people can take care of animals on a permanent basis.
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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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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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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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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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