Entrepreneurs develop ‘cat cafe’

Published 8:53 am Thursday, July 1, 2010

In this world it seems you’re either a dog person or a cat person.

While I love both dogs and cats, when it comes to my preference I have to say cats hold a special place in my heart. In my opinion, cats get a bad rap, especially when they’re perceived as anti-social and mean rather than the independent, friendly and graceful animals they are.

I have to say I’m slightly biased when it comes to cats because when I was younger I had the best cat in the world.

When I was 11 my grandmother and I set out on a search for a tortoiseshell patterned cat.

After Grams described to me what a tortoiseshell looked like (“Like someone took a paintbrush with orange paint and swept it along in their coat”) I knew I wanted one of my own. So with mom’s permission, we began scanning newspaper classifieds for a tortie kitten looking for a home.

It took a few months, but we finally we found an ad for a seven-month-old tortie in the next town over. When we arrived at the home, the woman told us they already owned three cats and she was giving away the last of her cat’s litter.

When Grams and I first saw Carrie we couldn’t believe the woman didn’t want her. She was a beautiful long haired tortoiseshell with greenish-gold eyes and a little bit of white on her chest and paws. I guess the white would have made her technically “calico” patterned, but she was the prettiest cat I had seen.

Carrie was a unique cat in many ways. A few days after she settled in at our house, her personality began to shine through.

Her inquisitive nature earned her the name “Curious Carrie” as she would paw and inspect any bag or container sitting on the floor or in a chair. She also loved to be held like a baby and would often make herself comfortable in the middle of my back while I lay on the floor watching television. In fact, she’d make herself comfortable anywhere; from a box in our basement to the shoe rack in our mudroom.

On top of it all, she couldn’t meow. Despite the vet confirming all her vocal chords were intact, she would make her trademark noise, “pssht,” when she wanted attention or a treat.

Carrie made cats my favorite animal and I was happy to have her as my pet until she suddenly passed at 11 years old.

While I still think cats are beautiful animals, I doubt I will ever own one again because it just wouldn’t be Carrie.

However, if I lived in Japan I could just visit a “cat cafe” for a feline fix.

It seems there the latest rage is visiting cat cafes, establishments where you can pet, play and feed cats treats all while you read a book and sip on a cup of coffee. Kind of like an amped up petting zoo.

If you’re not a cat person, you can always visit a dog cafe, a bunny cafe or even a bird cafe.

It all seems silly, but the owner caters to a niche group in Japan who love animals and live in small apartments where pets are not allowed. The business was recently featured on Time.com and many patrons credited the cats with helping them relax after a long day at work.

And that’s a feeling we all can relate to, coming home after a stressful day at work to find a furry friend waiting to take your mind off it.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.