Saturday daytime, while I was still comfortably oblivious to the severity of Japan’s disaster, Charlie, being the crazy cat lady she is, wanted to visit a cat cafe she had heard about. With the website mentioning free drinks, cookies, Nintendo games and a large amount of cats roaming around to play with I had a very clear picture in my head of what to expect:
I thought it would be a kitsch pink-coloured decorated cafe with frilly sofas and plush upholstery, tea in cute, flowery porcelain cups and cat-shaped cookies with pink icing. Meanwhile cats would stroll around the cafe, rub up against your legs and sit in your lap reveling the attention. And in my head the cafe was run by a very old, grey-haired cat-obsessed Japanese granny.
Quite the opposite turned out to be the case.
The “Cat Cafe” is on the top floor of a busy department store. It costs 400Yen (£3) to go in. Charlie and I tried to go in as a couple to get a reduction but the lady said no. (So, note to all lesbian couples wanting to visit the “Cat Cafe”: they are not homo-love friendly. Bring enough money. Do not expect a £1.80 discount.)
When we entered, we did not find ourselves in a cute, cupcake-icing-pink cafe but in an over decorated and over lit room with a huge “cat train” in its center. A huge statue of a cartoon cat was inside “driving the train” and the rest of the train was made up of separate compartments which one or two cats were using as a bed. A uniformed and masked Japanese girl was standing in the room making sure the cats and our behavior was all right.
In the next room we found further compartments – these were labelled as “Dishwashing”, “Kitchen” and “Warehouse”. The glass cases were colorfully painted and decorated with fake food and mini furniture. Amidst this spooky dollhouse-like fixture were a bunch of sleeping cats.
The room us humans were allowed to walk in had a faux fireplace, perches and bookshelves for the cats to climb, a huge cat head shaped TV playing cat videos and small boxes filled with dollhouse furniture on the walls. There were only five cats in this room whereas all others were imprisoned in the little themed compartments. Three cats were asleep and no sort of disturbance would wake them up, one cat (wearing a pink bandana around its neck) climbed to the top of a bookshelf to glare at us. Fair enough, we had just trespassed his living room. One cat was as adventurous as this confinement allowed him to be, climbing around the perches, and another cat was just chilling. I swear they were being fed sleeping pills. I don’t know cats – but these were groggy. Their eyes were unfocused and nothing motivated them.
The cat who was just chilling suddenly got up…I have never laughed so hard at an animal. He was handicapped. I still feel awful for laughing. His front legs were pretty much not there. They were stumps. Tiny, chopped off versions of the real thing. His hind legs were a normal length so he walked in a downward slant. He wasn’t horizontal – he was wonky. It was too much. Charlie and I were in bits. I managed to snap two pictures of Little Stumpy before he noticed he was being bullied. I swear he knew. He went back to his perch, laid down and tucked his shortcomings underneath his huge, fluffy belly. He then looked at the caretaker girl sadly. The girl went over to him right away and consoled him. It seemed like a regular drill. Oh Stumpy…
We waited for him to get up again to marvel at his ability to walk but he wasn’t having any of it. So, we left this bizarre dollhouse-cat world-confinement. It was real freaky but I’m glad I got to see it before my untimely departure.