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A Brief History of the Cat Café

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What starts with a C and wakes you up first thing in the morning?

If you said coffee, you’re half right. But the other half you may not have considered. Cat cafés are popping up all over the world, giving guests a chance to partake in warm beverages and pastries whilst communing with feline friends in a public environment. No litter boxes to tend to, no paws kneading on the bedposts in the morning, but all the psychological benefits that go along with the company of a good kitty. Here's what you need to know about the new trend that's meowing its way around the globe.

Early Cat Cafés

The world's first cat cafe, Cat Flower Garden, opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998. Soon, what began as a venture to provide young urbanites the chance to unwind after a hectic day became a favorite tourist destination. But cat cafés truly took off when they made their way to Japan.

At one of Toyko's first cat cafes, Neko no mise (Shop of Cats), which opened in 2005, the only cats that can't be cuddled are fragile newborns. Japan's capital city is now home to dozens of the establishments, which are popular, Neko no mise owner Norimasa Hanada told Vice, because "most Japanese rental apartments prohibit pets. The only ones that allow them are condominium apartments for families. This means that young, single-dwelling workers in their 20s and 30s can’t even think about getting any pets, despite the fact that they’re stressed out and are seeking comfort and companionship of some kind."

Cat Cafés in North America and Beyond

In April, New York became home to America’s first cat café (aptly named Cat Café), which was sponsored by Purina ONE with adoptable cats from North Shore Animal League. Though there were lines around the block to get in, the café was just a short-term pop-up. For now, it looks like America's first permanent cat cafés will find their homes in California's Bay Area: Two cat cafés—one in San Francisco, and one in Oakland— are slated to open there this year.

San Francisco’s KitTea is set to play host to rescued feral cats, and Oakland’s Cat Town will offer visitors the chance to adopt the felines at their cat café.

In North America, other establishments are entering into the “cat race,” with plans to open cat cafés in San Diego, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Meanwhile, Europe has been on top of the trend, with cat cafés in Berlin, Paris, and Turin, to name a few. The UK has also gotten going on its first feline-friendly café. With the help of more than 100,000 British Pounds in donations, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium opened in city’s hip, up-and-coming East End in March and has already managed to book itself up for a few months.

So next time you wake up looking for a quick pick-me-up, consider that it’s not just caffeine you need. Soon you might be able to start your day with a little help from your feline friends.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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