I find cats therapeutic – definitely mood-lifting, which of course enhances their value to harried deadline-plagued illustrators or plot-blocked writers. The longest periods of time I’ve been without a cat have been the extended times I’ve spent in Europe. In London I was staying in a comfortable little B&B in Bloomsbury. Only one other family (English, but recently forced by circumstances to leave their home in the Middle East) were staying in the hotel over Christmas. The hotel owner had a sweet-tempered, placid black and white cat named Tibby – a bit overweight from being spoiled by too many years of guests who, like us and our neighbors down the hall who had tried every day to lure the cat into our rooms with treats. We took turns – a rivalry of sorts – trying to get Tibby to spend time with each of us. Comfort companionship, entertainment. Every day the long-suffering landlord’s son would climb the stairs and knock on each of our doors. “Do you have Tibby?” he would ask. One or the other of us probably did.
Another cat, a grey cat, was encountered for only one day, when cheering was needed. She had bounded across a meadow in Switzerland, very purposefully and joyfully and with what looked like recognition, to cheer up three Americans going for a dejected walk in the countryside. She appeared to understand English perfectly and communicated cheerfulness so thoroughly that recovery was very quick and life’s problems soon solved.
So to tie in with my coffee shop theme this week, there are cat café’s in Japan. For about six years they have been very popular little establishments. Tea, coffee and smoothies are available, but the big draw is the cats, which provide a different kind of pick-me-up. Merchants there have come up with a solution for pet-starved over-crowded, can’t-keep-cats-in-your-apartment citizens of Tokyo who need the comforting, cheering and charming company of cats. There are quite a few of these cafés, where there’s a nominal fee for spending quality time with the cats. The cafés look very pleasant and clean in the pictures I’ve seen and very few actual refreshments are in evidence. The patrons have to take off their shoes and wash their hands before entering the cats’ presence and can’t disturb sleeping cats, pull tails or be uncivilized in any way! Sounds good to me.
I am without a cat for the time being – I’d love to visit a cat café right now!