The city lure of pet cafes

SINGAPORE - Pet lovers these days don't just walk their pets and play with them at home. Many want to pamper them when they dine out, too.

This has led to pet cafes sprouting up across Singapore in the past decade, said pet-cafe owners. Many pet cafes specialise in dogs.

In 2004, there was only one licensed pet cafe but, as of September this year, there are 13 licensed pet cafes, according to figures from the National Environment Agency.

Singapore's first cat cafe, called Neko no Niwa - Japanese for Cat Garden - is slated to open sometime this month.

It will be located at 54A Boat Quay and will house 10 to 15 adopted cats, which were previously strays or had been abandoned.

On the growing interest in pet cafes, Ms Vivian Lee, owner of Paw Pet-radise Cafe in Balestier Road, said: "Pet owners now are very willing to spend on their pets, as long as their pets are happy."

Pet cafes refer to food shops in which patrons may bring their pets along when they dine there, and food is usually sold for both pets and their owners.

At some pet cafes, there may be resident pets for customers to interact with. These cafes require an additional animal-exhibition licence from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Pet-cafe owners said pet cafes could also be rising in popularity because of an increase in pet ownership here.

As of October, there are about 65,000 licensed dogs in Singapore, according to figures from AVA. This is a jump from about 57,000 licensed dogs at the end of last year.

A lack of public places where pet owners could take their pets, without having to put them on a leash, could have spurred the setting up of some pet cafes.

This was a consideration for Mr H. P. Lim, owner of Doggiestyle Cafe at nex shopping mall, who wanted to create more options for pet owners to hang out with their pets.

He said that social media has helped to raise the profile of pet cafes when pet owners share photos that they take of their pets at the joints online.

Ms Tan Sue Lynn, co-owner of Neko no Niwa, said that the cat cafe was inspired by similar cafes set up in Japan.

Ms Lee said part of the allure of a pet cafe is that it allows pets to play and have good food, while their owners get much joy from watching their pets having fun.

For III Cafe, located in East Coast Road, its mission is to "provide a place where pet owners and pets can dine together happily", a spokesman said.

Ms Germaine Lee, a 25-year-old marketing communications executive, who visits pet cafes with her dogs several times a month, said such cafes allow her dogs to play with other pets.

She said: "This is good for them as they won't feel intimidated by bigger dogs when they get older."

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