Largely and widely believed to be an original Japanese concept, cat cafes actually first originated in Taiwan.
They're a relatively new concept too, with this year marking the 20th anniversary of the world's first ever cat cafe, Cat Flower Garden, based in Taipei.
It was in Japan, however, that the concept blossomed, although it wasn't until six years after the launch of Cat Flower Garden that the country's own first cat cafe opened its doors. Based in Osaka, the cafe, called Neko no Jikan or "Cat's Time," opened in 2004. A year later, Tokyo's first cat cafe, Neko no mise or "Shop of Cats" arrived, and is still open today.
Since then, cat cafes have opened across the world, in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, right across Europe, in Australia and New Zealand, and elsewhere in Asia.
In Tokyo, while cat cafes undoubtedly attract many tourists, they're also incredibly popular with locals. With many of the city's residents living in small apartments, often many floors up, cats and most other pets aren't viable. As a result, cat lovers instead take to the local cat cafes in order to get their feline fix.
And it's not just cat lovers. Following the success of Tokyo's many cat cafes, the city now boasts a number of other pet cafes where visitors can enjoy the company of dogs, rabbits, birds, snakes, and even goats, should they wish to do so!
With that said, it's still cat cafes which have the most significant draw for locals and tourists alike. So, without further ado, here are five of our favorite Tokyo cat cafes, each of which is worth exploring on your next trip to the city...
1-16-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Arguably Tokyo's most popular cat cafe, it's also one of the biggest. Set over two floors, Calico also boasts more cats than any other cat cafe in the city. In fact, you'll find around three times as many as elsewhere, with Calico home to around fifty felines! It's open later than most, too – until 10 pm. An emphasis on well-being is central to proceedings at Calico, as it is at each cat cafe on this list. As such, you can enjoy the company of one—or more!—of literally dozens of cute and cuddly cats and kittens, safe in the knowledge that they're all perfectly well cared for.
32-12 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo
Part of a chain of cat cafes (don't let that put you off!), it's MoCHA's Shibuya location which is most widely praised. Designed purely with its resident felines in mind, a myriad of walkways, perches, and hidey-holes make this something of a cat paradise for its 23 current inhabitants. Decidedly upmarket, certainly in terms of cat cafes, the "olde worlde"-but-stylish decor is utterly charming. Slightly more expensive than other cat cafes in the city, it's also perhaps Tokyo's trendiest. Plus it's on the eighth floor, so there's a great view to be had of the surrounding area as you sit gazing out with your new feline friends.
Neko JaLaLa, Akihabara
3-5-5 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Located in Tokyo's main otaku hot spot, Neko JaLaLa is known for its exotic breeds, and not just run-of-the-mill moggies. As a result, it's popular among hardcore cat enthusiasts from Tokyo and further afield. It's also one of the city's most popular and thus busiest cat cafes, so make a reservation if possible otherwise you may have to wait in line to enter. To find your way in, look for the door with the large cat pictured on it...
1-5-2 Hanakawado, Taito, Tokyo
Less cat cafe and more cat restaurant, MONTA also offers a selection of tasty food and desserts which other locations often lack. Newer than the other cat cafes on this list, MONTA is impeccably decorated and, while undeniable trendy and resembling something from a luxury lifestyle publication, it's also incredibly comfortable. Surrounded by a horde of cute cats, as a fan of furry felines, you'll feel right at home.
4-8-3 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Something a little different, Nyanny is a private home turned cat cafe. As a result, it's a bit more spacious and much more relaxed, than other more mainstream cat cafe offerings. Much like Neko JaLaLa, several of the twelve feline occupants here are more than a little special, with Persian, Ragamuffin and Bengal breeds all residing at Nyanny. There are a well-stocked bookshelf and a selection of alcoholic beverages on offer too, making this one of the greatest places for cat lovers to kick back and relax when in Tokyo!