As the self-proclaimed cat lady of the office, I declared this very special outing and report mine before anyone knew what I was talking about. Not a “cat-person”? Had a bad experience with a scratchy kitty? You will surely change your mind when you come in contact with the friendly (and gorgeous, I must add) cats at Cat Fair (#TeamCat). And if you tear up with joy in the presence of adorableness (like yours truly), Cat Fair is the perfect place for you– the resulting happiness will last you for days.
As you enter the venue, you will find various booths selling cat-related products and panels with information on how to keep a pet cat happy and healthy, and general information on cat lifestyle and anatomy. Although the staff generally speak little English, they will be happy to help and inform any fellow cat devotees with gestures and some English, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
On your right, you can find the event area, with posters of cats and event information. Be prepared for the incoming fuzzy feelings as cats of over forty different breeds in protective cages are stationed all around the area– each with a label communicating his/her breed and other information. Of course, the cats don’t spend all their time chilling in their cages; they are regularly moved to much larger spaces, such as the petting areas and cat cafes, where they can play and interact with loving visitors freely! Do be mindful of the (mostly) sleeping cats in their cages – although tempting, Cat Fair asks visitors to avoid putting your fingers in the cages to pet them. Photos are also strictly prohibited anywhere at the event!
You won’t miss the large glass-enclosed area in the middle of the venue. Kittens of only a few months old peacefully nap or play around the room, some affectionately sleeping sandwiched on top of each other or snuggling against soft stands and blankets. Whether it be shorthair kittens, tabby kittens, or Siamese kittens, all have their somewhat untidy fluffiness in common.
Pasted on the venue’s walls, posters from the Fukuoka Veterinary Medical Association feature photos of various pet cats sent from the public with a personal caption about their cat. The posters were made for the “Ouchi e Kaerou Purojekuto”, dubbed Save the Dog & Cat project, which encourages people to adopt cats without a home.
And for the part you’ve been itching for: you can pet and hold the cats to your heart’s content (if the honorable kitty allows you to!) in two different petting areas and one cat cafe! The areas, including the cat cafe, are named A, B and C, and hold fifteen-minute sessions for limited groups of visitors. Don’t forget to take off your shoes before entering the area!
My equally cat-loving friend, Giselle and I, went to all three rooms with different breeds of cats. We had the most luck with petting area A, located at the entrance of the venue, where there were less people and the cats more cuddly and friendly. I particularly fell in love with a sweet, headstrong Havana Brown cat with slightly bald areas resembling eyebrows over his eyes, purring as soon as I held him in my arms.
Havana Browns are know to be very social and affectionate, which was reflected in this particular cat. I petted and hugged him on several occasions and he reveled in the tender attention– definitely shower him with affection if you find him! One of the event staff, who kindly allowed us to take photos for Fukuoka Now, certainly looked happy with our new furry friend in his arms as we snapped a picture.
Apart from the affectionate Havana Brown cat, there are many more interesting cat breeds to meet, such as the Munchkin cat which is known for its short legs (and cute appearance), the Himalayan cat known for its long hair and similarity to Persian and Siamese breeds, the Calico cat and much more! We were particularly fond of our friend Hagrid (Persian cat), whom we named after the character from Harry Potter for his uncanny resemblance. Giselle held a particularly luscious-coated orange tabby cat in her arms.
Before you leave the venue, don’t miss the infamous manekineko (lit. beckoning cat) figurines, which are considered lucky charms in Japanese culture, or the special cat souvenir store, where you can buy cat-themed clothes, bags, mugs, keychains, purses and more!
But before you venture into this cat paradise, here are some tips to make sure the cats stay stress-free during your visit:
• A wagging tail usually means a cat is not happy or is annoyed– it’s best to leave them alone while they recuperate.
• If passing cats lower themselves to the ground as you attempt petting them, this usually means they don’t want to be touched or picked up. Try not to trap a kitty into being petted! Cats will come to you when they want your attention.
• Although tempting, avoid trying to pick up a sleeping cat (you wouldn’t want to be disturbed in your sleep). Gentle petting is okay.
• If you plan on going with children, we encourage you to inform them on how to gently handle a cat or let them rest when needed.
Happy viewing and petting; we hope you have an un-fur-gettable time!
• 7/21 (Thu.) ~ 8/3 (Wed.)
• 10:00~20:00 (Cat cafe: ~18:30) (8/3: ~17:00)
• Adult (HS and over): ¥1,000, Child (4 y.o. ~ JHS): ¥600, 3 y.o. and under: Free; Cat cafe: admission +¥300 (cat cafe only: ¥500), 3 y.o. and under: Free
• 8F Main Bldg., Daimaru Fukuoka Tenjin
• 1-4-1 Tenjin, Chuo-ku
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/%E3%81%B5%E3%82%8C%E3%81%82%E3%81%84%E3%81%AD%E3%81%93%E5%B1%95%E7%A6%8F%E5%B2%A1-1136363309722758/
Text and photos by Alba Tinelli, for Fukuoka Now