The Cat’s out of the Bag Why They Are Taking over Cafes in China

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What’s the trendiest thing you can think of? Add a cat and you’ve got a recipe for success. Cats are taking over everything from cafes to the Internet and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. Let’s take a look at China’s cat culture and why this beloved animal is trending.
Recently, China has been capitalizing on the popularity of cat cafes. Cat-theme cafes, which was a new concept two or three years ago, have touched the lives of many people living in first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Cat cafes in second-tier cities have begun to encounter more and more competition as the trend heats up.
The cat cafes are aptly named for their cafe services as well as their abundance of cats. Customers are attracted to these cafes so they can watch and play with a variety of exotic cat breeds they wouldn’t otherwise see elsewhere. There is typically an entry fee so cat cafes are in a way, a stationary pet rental service.
The origin of cat cafe stems from both people’s love of cat culture and the comfort of cafe s as an oasis away from home life. Some families have a member that is allergic to cats, some live in cramped spaces and don’t have room for a pet, while others simply enjoy the company of cats but aren’t willing to make the financial and time commitment to caring for one. All in all, cat cafes offer a way to satisfy emotional needs for both the cat and the city people who frequent these establishments.
Why cats though? Dogs are popular as well but many people prefer the laid back and charming nature of their feline friends. Although they can be more mischievous, they tend to be less high maintenance and can live in smaller spaces if necessary. Overall cats are more suitable for city people and their busy lives.

猫咖 (Māokā): n. Cat cafe.

Zài māokā, kěyǐ hé māo qīnmì jiēchù.
在    猫咖,可以和   猫   亲 密 接 触。
In a cat cafe, you can have close contact with cats.

Māokā tōngcháng huì tígōng dàngāo hé kāfēi.
猫   咖   通     常     会 提 供     蛋  糕  和 咖啡。
Cat cafes usually provide cakes and coffee.

游玩指南 (Yóuwán zhǐnán) Play guide:

•   喝咖啡 (Hē kāfēi) Drink coffee

The entry fee is usually free with a purchase of a coffee or other drink on the menu. The prices are often times a little higher than a regular cafe to account for the cost to care for the cats properly.
•   享受手工甜品 (Xiǎngshòu shǒugōng tiánpǐn) Enjoy handmade desserts

•   喂食 (Wèishí) Feeding

The cafes often times have treats for sale to encourage the cats to eagerly interact with customers. If you are lucky, some of the cats have been trained to obey simple commands to earn their treats.

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•   画画 (Huàhuà) Painting

The art inside a cat cafe is typically cat themed as well. Some are for sale by local artists.

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•   摄影 (Shèyǐng) Photography

Cats are some of the most photogenic animals on earth. Many people come to share their experience on social media by taking many pictures of the cats playing and cuddling.
•   领养服务 (Lǐngyǎng fúwù) Adoption services

The best part about cat cafe is that if you fall in love with a cat, you might just be able to take it home with you! Some establishments care for cats that are available for adoption. These cats usually come from shelters and are introduced to the cafe to acclimate them to people. You can usually see posters describing each cat and whether or not they are available for adoption.

猫经济 (Māo jīngjì) Cat economy:

•   猫咪寄养 (Māomī jìyǎng) Foster cats

For those that have big hearts, fostering a cat is an option. You act as a temporary home until a permanent home can be established. It’s hard not to get attached but for people that move often for work this might be the best option.
•   云养猫 (Yún yǎng māo) Cyber cat petting

If you just can’t get enough cat interaction there is always the internet. The options are endless. In China they call it, “云养猫 (yún yǎng māo) raising cloud cats.” A cat owner with a massive following can update social media such as WeChat or Weibo with photos and videos of their own cats. Followers have the option to send gifts to their favorite online celebrity cat. There are even apps that people can also virtually feed cats through.

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•   虚拟养猫游戏 (Xūnǐ yǎng māo yóuxì) Virtual cat petting game

Many people can raise their very own cat online through a game app as well. What’s better than being able to bring your virtual pet with you anywhere, any time? These games are interactive and give users the feeling of accomplishment without having to physically take responsibility for a live cat. People are so busy these days, it might be the best option for round-the-clock companion animal.

HSK 3 quiz

A. 猫咪寄养 (Māomī jìyǎng)

B. 云养猫 (Yún yǎng māo)

C. 买狗粮 (Mǎi gǒu liáng)

—Written by Julia Liu—

Julia Liu teaches Chinese with eChineseLearning. She has been successfully teaching for 5 years and loves reading and practices her passion of drawing in her free time.
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