TOKYO (AFP) - A Tokyo "cat cafe" has been raided by health inspectors and ordered to close its doors due to animal neglect after complaints about nasty smells coming from the premises.
The "Neko no Te" (cat's paw) cafe - one of many in Tokyo where guests can stroke the fluffy felines while sipping on a cappuccino - was visited by the authorities after the cooped-up kitties bred rapidly and began showing signs of illness, Tokyo officials said on Friday (April 22).
A spokesman from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health told AFP that the cafe had received several warnings over hygiene standards, before the patience of the authorities snapped and they revoked its licence for 30 days.
"We issued repeated requests but there was no improvement," said Ms Yuriko Iwamoto.
"The property wasn't being cleaned properly and it was beginning to smell very bad," she added.
"In line with animal welfare laws we were therefore forced to order them to cease business."
Inspectors who went to the cafe in Tokyo's Sumida ward found more than 60 cats crammed into a confined space of just 30 sq m - despite it having applied to keep just 10 of the animals - after they bred due to a lack of cages.
"There were more cats than cages," added Ms Iwamoto. "The cages they did have were not properly controlled so they just multiplied."
The inspectors also discovered more than 40 cats displaying cold symptoms and pointed out there was insufficient space or opportunity for them to exercise.
As of last year, Tokyo had 58 registered cat cafes, which have also done a roaring trade across Japan, other parts of Asia and have even begun sprouting up in Europe.
Similar themed cafes are big business in Japan, where animal-loving guests can also share a relaxing drink with rabbits, goats and even owls.