Why I Refused to Visit Japan's Owl & Bunny Cafes – Better Alternative

What could be cuter than a pet bunny? If given the chance, who would refuse to hold and pat an owl? Even better if you could wine and dine alongside them.

Away from the neon lights in Roppongi and Harajuku are a string of cafes graced by the cutest animals – from neko (cats), inu (dogs), harinezumi (hedgehogs) to fukurō (owls) and banī (bunnies).

It’s soooo kawaii or cute, as they love to say in Japan.

But the unfortunate truth is that rabbits and bunnies are very fragile animals that require proper handling. Rabbits often do not like children and can be very fearful of them. Children running around screaming can cause stress and anxiety for rabbits and bunnies. Loud sounds, such as cats, dogs, loud music, or screaming can lead to a heart attack and put a rabbit into shock, causing sudden death.

Owls are nocturnal animals. They’re meant to fly, not to be tied to their perch to prevent them from flying away from patrons. Moreover, many of these cafes are understaffed and don’t have enough eyes to keep kids from treating them as mere playthings.

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Hedgehogs, just like owls, are nocturnal but also solitary creatures. They ball up if they don’t want to interact. Many visitors think this is cute, but don’t necessarily understand that it’s their way of showing they’re stressed. Looking at all the photos of hedgehog cafes, harinezumi are mostly balled up… so these creatures don’t really want to interact with us. Womp womp!

What I find most disheartening is that these cafes are developed for the sole amusement of humans, but completely disregarding the welfare of the animals.

I thought cats would be impervious to this kind of treatment since (most) looove being held… well for a few moments anyway. But within a month of opening, Cat Cafe Mocha was under fire for cats dying of a feline parvovirus. Four kittens have also died because of it yet the owner refused to close the store. Yuck!

I won’t give these businesses anymore attention. So I’ve decided not to link to their page or include any photos of the very very cute animals.

Better Alternative

As a lover of wildlife, I encourage you to look into supporting animal sanctuaries instead. Many organizations are dedicated to the conservation and care of these animals. Some are open to visitors and happily welcome donations to support the caretakers and continuance of educational programs.

What do you think of these animal cafes? Would you visit them?