Tuesday, April 22, 2014


You might have heard of a pop-up cat café in opening on Thursday in New York. Cat cafes are popular in Japan (although I've read they originated in Taiwan), and on my 2010 Tokyo adventure, I made sure I visited two of them in the company of Anna (from the excellent Tamago Craft). So, dear American cat people: I know you're drooling at the idea of sipping a delicious gourmet coffee while petting kittens and relaxing to a symphonic harmony of purring. What you're going to get instead, it's a bitter lesson in class system. And let me add this, it's about time!

Notice the patrons pretending they are not crushed by the cats ignoring them.

If the New York cat café is anything like the ones in Tokyo, you will be spending a good fee for entrance, drink watered-down and overpriced cappuccino in fancy but not-too-fancy china, and you'll sit there in excited discomfort for your allowed time (many places have a hourly fee) while painfully beautiful pedigree cats avoid you like the plague. In the best of cases, these cats will just sit in their carpeted scratching-post lofts with their back turned to you. In the worst of cases, you will try to sit next to them only to see them leave immediately for the aforementioned carpeted scratching-post lofts. These cats won't acknowledge your calls, won't purr, won't make eye contact: The only thing they'll make very clear is that they think you're low-class scum.

At times an eccentric cat might approach you for a quick petting session, but it will hurry back to its friends immediately afterwards to show you that was just an ironic social experiment. It's the cat version of the purely aristocratic thrill of occasionally mixing with the peasants.

For you American patrons, visiting a cat café is going to feel like winning a lottery ticket to an archduke's ball, but without any introductory niceties. At this ball, nobody is going to dance with you, nobody is going to socialize with you, nobody is even going to give you the slightest impression they want to see you again. And everybody will look a million times better than you ever will (and they know it).

Thanks to these cat cafes, America can finally experience what other countries around the world are dominated by: an immovable class system, the self-hatred of the lower classes, the awesome power of apparently helpless beings, albeit beautiful, heartbreakingly beautiful beings.


  1. Really funny and true, just like this bit of the traveling show: "An idiot abroad, Japan" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVg6_JzBSdA
    Still, I wish I've been there too.

    1. I'll watch it as soon as I can. But yes, Franci, that was a fun experience. No regrets.