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Feline Fanciers Love Tokyo's Calico Cat Cafe

During airline travel, my incessant desire for intellectual stimulation compels me to devour whatever printed material is accessible when electronic media is required to be turned off. Therefore, I often find myself perusing airline magazines and finding inspiring topics for my pet care articles. Recently, United Airlines’ Hemispheres offered up an account of the trendy “cat cafe” concept in Tokyo’s Calico Cat Cafe. The Calico allows its stressed out customers to enjoy the calming benefits provided by caressing kitties while sipping tea for the price of $10 per hour. The relatively small fee to spend quality time receiving the affections of a feline friend seems worthwhile considering the difficulty many Tokyo residents experience maintaining a pet; Japanese professionals work notoriously long work days and policies banning pets from many apartment buildings are prevalent. The feline residents also reap the benefits from regular positive interaction with humans and other cats. Although I love idea of a cat cafe benefiting both humans and felines, my veterinary medically focused mind questions the public and animal health concerns potentially stemming from interspecies interactions. Confined spaces often create hot zones for infectious agents, some animal specific and others zoonotic (transmittable from one species to another). Cafe attendees could unwittingly be exposed to fungal dermatologic organisms (Dermatophytosis, AKA Ringworm) or bacterial agents (Bartonellosis, AKA Cat Scratch Fever). Other animals or people encountered post-cafe could be exposed infectious agents through contact with feline secretions, hair, or dander on a cafe patron’s clothing or skin. Transmission of disease from one species to another is not exclusively from cats to people. Cats may be exposed to organisms, such as 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) through close contact with humans. The 2009 H1N1 virus has proven to zoonotically transfer from humans to both cats and dogs, so one sick traveler could infect many susceptible cats (see my LA Pet Care Examiner page of 2009 H1N1 articles) in the confined cafe environment. To reduce the potential for zoonosis, good sanitary practices, including hand washing and changes of clothing, should be employed. Additionally, cat cafe patrons that are sick or recently recovering from illness should not be permitted entry. All cats housed in the cafe environment should have thorough and regular veterinary testing and treatment for infectious organisms. Regular grooming (bathing, brushing, etc) can also to reduce the potential for disease to spread among feline and human populations. I wish much success to the Calico Cat Cafe and other similar businesses that emphasize the human-animal bond’s benefit for both people and pets. Thank you for reading my article. To receive an email with a link to my next article, please press the “Don’t Miss a Blog Post” button on the right upper corner of this page.
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