Going to a Cat Cafe in Japan (When You Have a Cat Allergy)

Cat cafe Kyoto, Japan

When you have a cat allergy the last place you’d want to go inside is a cat cafe. Or so you’d think….

Not me.

I must get some sort of perverse pleasure from self-inflicted suffering.

Since I was born I’ve had allergies of all kinds, and seem to spend half of my life slathering myself in itch relief cream or popping antihistamines after eating something I shouldn’t.

It’s cruel enough that I often have to avoid certain foods (I constantly fail) but I’m also supposed to avoid contact with cats! For an animal lover this kind of abstinence is horrible. However, the blow is marginally softened because I’m much better with dogs and show virtually no reaction when around them!

Before going to Japan I dreamed about going to a cat cafe, it didn’t matter that I was allergic to the furry fellas, I’d swallow a packet of antihistamines if I needed to. And now that I was here, my thoughts had not changed. Going to Japan without entering a cat cafe is, in my books, on par with going to Japan without trying sushi, or going to Hawaii without wearing a coconut bra (that’s a stereotype worth maintaining, right?).

After visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, I walked to Neko Cafe Time, a small cat cafe en route to Keihan railway station. It’s located up a narrow flight of stairs and thus easily missed by most people walking by.

Like any regular cafe or restaurant, I was given a menu to select a drink, however, the menu also had a list of minutes that matched to a price and I needed to select one before entering. Initially, I didn’t think this ‘counting-down-the-minutes’ procedure seemed necessary, but there are probably loads of people who could spend all day playing with the cats so it makes sense that the entrance fee goes up according to the length of stay inside.

It worked out well for me in the end because I knew I couldn’t stay long before being hit with a blocked nose and wheezy chest, so I paid upfront for 30-minutes.

Cat Cafe, Kyoto

As soon as I entered the cafe I noticed that instead of looking like a cafe in the traditional sense of the word, it resembled the waiting room of a doctor’s surgery. If  I owned the place I’d replace the furniture with something more characterful. But anyway, the decor isn’t really what you guys want to hear about when I could be talking about the cats!

The first cat I clocked was a ginger Persian one and without holding anything back, it was love at first sight!

The only problem was….. another girl was ALL OVER him!

Cat cafe, Kyoto

I tried to wait my turn, I really did, and I tried to avert my attention to the other felines who were perfectly cute but my eyes kept wandering over to the ginger one. I thought if I could manage to get eye contact with him he’d come to me, but he didn’t even look in my direction once.

Neko Cat Cafe, Kyoto

I glanced at the time, 15-minutes had already passed and I was no closer to the end goal, I needed to do something for him to notice me….

Food was my only hope.

I jumped up to the counter and paid for a bag of treats, and as soon as I opened the packet the cats all came crawling towards me like a moth to a flame. Not the best for my allergies but I didn’t care. I had the ginger in the palm of my hand now.

Neko Cafe Time, Kyoto

After being in there for about 20-minutes, I was pleased my eyes had not quadrupled in size, but my skin was beginning to feel itchy. Whether this was partially  psychosomatic I’m not entirely sure. But it was worth it to play with the grumpy ginger cat, even if he did only come purring over to me because I’d bought him some edible treats.

Isn’t that the way to anyone’s heart?

Have you been to a cat cafe before? Or would you like to?



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'Going to a Cat Cafe in Japan (When You Have a Cat Allergy)' have 21 comments

  1. June 12, 2015 @ 7:15 pm Claire

    I’m allergic to most cats! But strangely I don’t get sniffly around the amazing vocal Bengal that I love with – he’s my housemate’s cat. I did get a bit bunged up the first few days but I’ve put it down to either becoming immune to him (never lived with a cat before, or, it’s that his fur is so matte and silky that he just doesn’t pick up pollen on his adventures. I get bad hayfever so if the latter is correct then maybe I’m NOT actually allergic to cats, and it’s the pollen they’re covered in. On to cat cafés! There’s one in London – Lady Dina’s Cat Emporium that I was dying to try out regardless of allergy! But I’ve heard its all a bit clinical. Not in decor, but there’s lots of rules and unnecessary restrictions. Could be wrong but that’s what I’ve heard. Not tried it yet for that fact. My boyfriend’s sister lived in Copenhagen last year and discovered one there, that’s basically a free for all! And they do coffee with cat head shaped foam! Sounds amazing! Your cat cafe sounds a little in between these :) a little clinical but once you’re in, you’re in! The cats look so at home and loving the attention! Glad to see you’re still having a fantastic time on your new adventures :) – the Brutalist girl 😀

    Reply

  2. June 12, 2015 @ 7:22 pm Claire

    Ha – the at I live* with! Not love with – stupid iphone.

    Reply

  3. June 12, 2015 @ 7:22 pm Claire

    Blimey – cat*!!! I give up.

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    • June 17, 2015 @ 7:09 pm admin

      Haha! I do exactly the same thing when I’ve made a typo – I have to correct myself even if it’s not really necessary like when I’m using Whatsapp!

      Sounds like that Bengal cat is a winner!

      No way, I didn’t know London had one called Lady Diana’s Cat Emporium, that’s awesome! I definitely think we should check it out in spite of the mixed reviews. Also, your reply comes at a perfect time because I’m going to Copenhagen next week so if I’ve got time I’m going to try and go to the one which you’ve highlighted to me.

      Thank you very much for the tips Brutalist girl :)

      Reply

      • June 23, 2015 @ 8:24 am Claire

        Haha! Oh cool, well the name of it is Café Miao! Do post a photo on Instagram if you visit but decide not to write a post about it!

        Oh and I spelt it wrong anyway but it’s Lady Dinah, not Lady Diana’s cat emporium ha! Maybe I’ll try it out one day. Bengal definitely winning.

        Reply

  4. June 12, 2015 @ 8:06 pm Wesley Pechler

    Such a cute photo of you! And of the cat of course. How much was 30 minutes inside? The first cat cafe in the Netherlands just opened up shop but is booked full for months to come unfortunately! I’m allergic to the little fuckers as well, which is awful since I can’t pass one without petting the itty bitty kitty, but since I’m already on antihistamines 9 months a year for hay fever and dust mite it doesn’t really matter <3

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    • June 19, 2015 @ 9:43 am admin

      I’m a rubbish travel blogger Wesley because I can’t give you an exact price. However, I don’t think it was too expensive… perhaps something like 3 Euros excluding the drink!
      Wow, I can’t believe the newly opened one in the Netherlands is fully booked for months, however, unlike Japan, there’s only one of them so I shouldn’t be too surprised by this!
      Hah, you’ll be sorted if you’re already drugged up with antihistamines for such a large part of the year!

      Reply

  5. June 12, 2015 @ 8:19 pm Pam | a Blonde around the World

    Ahah well, how could you miss such a fun place?? I’ve never been in one, but I would love to!!

    Reply

    • June 19, 2015 @ 9:44 am admin

      I couldn’t resist Pam! I hope you manage to get to one, they’re pretty funny!

      Reply

  6. June 13, 2015 @ 5:25 am Nigel Hywel-Jones

    I have lived in Japan over several months and have to confess…… I have never heard of a cat cafe until I read your piece. And I am a cat lover – without the allergies. On a separate note…. Did people speak Japanese to you? My wife joined me for one month and had a number of people speak to her in Japanese. When I mentioned this to my colleague Ihara told me that Rung had features that could pass for some of the southern islands like Okinawa.

    Reply

    • June 19, 2015 @ 10:02 am admin

      No way! You must have heard of a cat cafe Nigel?! Maybe the information was pushed aside for more important subjects 😉

      Funny you ask that question. No matter where I’ve been in Asia, locals have always known I was a foreigner, and some even presuming I’m fully European (even though I think I look much more Asian than I do otherwise), however, the Japanese all spoke to me in Japanese! I was told it’s because quite a few now have plastic surgery so it’s common for girls to look more Westernised. It’s likely your daughter will also get mistaken for being Japanese if she goes to Japan!

      However, with me, I think it was more to do with my very pale skin. The difference is noticeable in S E Asia, but it’s the same colour as most people living in the colder climate of Japan!

      Reply

  7. June 13, 2015 @ 10:42 am Lily La

    Haha aww I can’t believe you went to the cat cafe when you have an allergy! I went to one recently in Jakarta, and they cats are pretty adorable. I don’t usually like cats, but it was fun! Have you ever been to a dog cafe? They’re a lot of fun to.

    Reply

    • June 19, 2015 @ 10:06 am admin

      Haha, hopefully the cats in Jakarta softened you up a little 😉 But like you, I’m a dog person and I’ve never heard of a dog cafe before!! Where is the one you went to??!

      Reply

  8. June 15, 2015 @ 6:42 am Edna

    I’m allergic as well! But love cats, so visited one in Tokyo — but like you, 30 minutes was enough :)

    Reply

    • June 19, 2015 @ 10:09 am admin

      I hope you had some precautionary antihistamines in your bag Edna…!

      Reply

  9. June 15, 2015 @ 8:45 am Richard

    Ive only been to one – it was called Katzentempel (great name!) in Munich. There were no time limits but the cats were pretty antisocial so we didn’t stay too long.

    Reply

    • June 19, 2015 @ 10:12 am admin

      I love that name too! Haha I love the idea of all the cat being antisocial 😀

      Reply

  10. June 21, 2015 @ 4:26 am Jude Bell

    I went to a cat cafe in Tokyo, and it was heaven. In contrast to what this writer describes, this cafe had comfortable couches, so everyone was comfy, people and cats! I really appreciated the rules for handling the cats, so they didn’t get overwhelmed. I was also amazed by gorgeous cat breeds I’d never seen before.

    I’m so glad that a cat cafe has opened in Oakland, California. This one, though, is different, because it’s purpose is to get cats adopted.

    Reply

    • June 21, 2015 @ 6:02 pm admin

      Hi Jude, happy to read you enjoyed yourself at a cat cafe in Tokyo, I’d be interested to know what it was called for future reference? As you mentioned, it’s very important that guidelines at put in place to ensure the cats don’t get overwhelmed. Hopefully, all cat cafes implement such guidelines, this one in Kyoto certainly did as well.

      Ahhh the one in Oakland sounds wonderful! It reminds me of an unusual cat sanctuary in Rome where you can also adopt, I wrote a piece about it here: http://www.theculturemap.com/unlikely-cat-sanctuary-in-rome/

      Reply

  11. July 10, 2015 @ 6:55 am Pixie

    hey!
    Great article, this is my fav cat cafe in Japan!
    Just would like to point out that the ginger kitty is a little lady, and her name is Momo :) which means peach x

    Reply

    • July 11, 2015 @ 2:30 pm Shing Yoong

      Hi Pixie! Haha thanks for the correction – Miss Momo it is then! Oh what a peach she is! :) X

      Reply


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