Pet Cafes have been a thing in Asia for years. Recently they also started popping up all around Europe. Especially Cat Cafes (and the occasional pop-up Pug Cafe) can be found in a lot of big cities here.
I love animals but haven’t owned any pets since I moved away from home. Visiting these cafes is a good way to fill that sad pet-less void in my life… at least for a little while.
While it’s great to see and interact with certain more “exotic” animals up-close, I still recommend to really look into individual pet cafes and to do a bit of research before visiting them.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of spending some time with a cute pet but unfortunately, not every pet cafe treats their animals as well as they should.
It’s something I sadly experienced in Japan at least once and it made me wish I hadn’t just chosen the first best place to visit.
To help you pick the right kind of cafe and avoid the mistakes I made, here is a list of the three pet cafes I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Mame Shiba- Shiba Inu Dog Cafe
I stumbled upon Mame Shiba Cafe during a walk through Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori. I instantly spotted the Shiba Inu sign and was so excited to find out that it’s an actual cafe filled with Mame Shibas!
Shiba Inus are one of my favourite kinds of dogs and spending an hour playing and petting them sounded like an absolute blast.
Reviews for the place were scarce and not amazing but I decided that I really wanted to check it out and see for myself.
The Mame Shiba Inu Cafe can now be found at various locations in Japan. It’s probably one of the most popular pet cafes in Japan so waiting times can be quite long.
Mame Shibas are a special Shiba Inu breed. They are much smaller than the regular Shiba Inu dog.
How it works
You usually pay at the entrance and they will give you a ticket with the next available time slot.
Since we visited the cafe early in the morning, we only had to wait around 15 minutes.
The 880 Yen (roughly 8£) entry fee includes 30 minutes with the dogs and a free drink. It’s actually the cheapest pet cafe that I visited in Japan.
While there isn’t that much space and it can get quite crammed (there is a limit to how many people they let it in at one time though), the atmosphere in the cafe was quite calm.
People were sitting on the floor while the dogs were running or lying around. I had my eyes set on a little puppy that was up to no good- chewing on the tatami floor (and people) all while running away from the staff. Even though he was way too excited to stay in one place for long I managed to play a little with him. 30 minutes where over so quickly, I didn’t even get to have one of the free beverages.
Overall it was a great experience. The staff seemed to take really good care of the dogs. Mame Shiba Inu Cafe was probably my favourite pet cafe experience in Japan.
Hedgehog Cafe “Harry”
Harry, in my opinion, is the best Hedgehog cafe “chain” in Japan. Their stores are clean and the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.
The African pygmy hedgehog can be found in their cafes. It’s a domesticated kind of Hedgehog and another cool thing? Every Hedgehog in their cafes is up for adoption.
For 1650 Yen (15£), you get to spend 30 minutes with a hedgehog. If you want you can even feed him some mealworms all while enjoying a free beverage of your choice.
If you want to read a more in-depth review of my experience at Harry’s, check out this post.
Cat Cafe “Mocha”
There is an abundance of cat cafes in Japan but MoCHA is my favourite cat cafe chain I have been to so far.
Their store interiors are beautifully designed (quite Instagramable) and their giant wooden cat tree centrepieces have become their signature logo.
Every time I have been to MoCHA the atmosphere was calm and relaxed. Since their cafes are quite big you rarely ever get in the way of people. The thing that won me over the most was that the cats were active and playful and engaged with us without having to try hard. That’s such a rare thing for cat cafes!
I have been to a lot of Cat Cafes in different places of the world. Generally, the cats at Cat Cafes tend to be very disinterested in the humans around them. It can be hard to even get to pet one sometimes!
I can’t speak for every MoCHA store in Japan (they have around 15 in Tokyo alone), but I think if you are unsure which cat cafe to try, MoCHA is probably a safe bet.
At MoCHA you don’t have to pay by the hour like in a lot of other Cat Cafes. You can stay as long as you want and pay for every ten minutes you’ve been there.