Japanese cafes where you pay to pet cats

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”  — Terry Pratchett

In Japan, pets are the new kids. As the nation rapidly edge toward zero population growth (1950 fertility rate = 3.65; 2009 = 1.21), cat and dog obsession is reaching strange heights – even for the Japanese. The latest example is the increasing number of cat cafes. According to the GlobalPost, one magazine listed 39 such establishments, up from 1 just two years ago.

At one of these, Calico, “customers pay to sip tea and stroke one of the 20-odd resident cats, representing 17 different breeds.” An hour of doing a cat’s bidding costs about $9.

Customers at Calico are given a set of rules when they enter:

  • wear your cat-access pass around your neck at all times
  • no one under 5th grade may enter
  • cats too young to be held have scarves around their necks
  • do not hold or stroke a cat if it resists you
  • never wake a napping cat
  • bringing cat nip or cat food to the cafe is strictly forbidden.

Oddly, nothing about trying to bathe them.

Good news for mice everywhere: “SKoreans clone cats that glow in the dark”

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday. In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.

Just the thing to take to your next rave.

UPDATE: Derek writes in to remind me that the glow in the dark cat is probably a follow up to an earlier innovation: The fearless mouse.

Japanese scientists say they’ve used genetic engineering to create mice that show no fear of felines, a development that may shed new light on mammal behavior and the nature of fear itself.

Another way to describe a mouse that isn’t afraid of cats: Dead.