They are popular tourist spots, particularly in Asia, but experts say you should stay away from this burgeoning trend.

Nothing sounds better than snuggling up to a cute animal while enjoying a cup of coffee.
But while you may be an animal lover and it might make an adorable picture, we need to stop giving animal cafes our money, activists say.

This week Thai authorities and animal rights organisation Watchdog Thailand, launched an investigation into a popular cat and dog cafe in tourist hotspot Bangkok following extraordinary claims of animal neglect, Asian news service Coconuts reports.

Police have filed a report against Kitties & Bears Cafe after it surfaced the cafe's owner was allegedly convicted this year for failing to comply with licensing conditions when he ran a cat cafe in Singapore, where seven cats died due to poor health.

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It has been alleged that animals at Kitties & Bears Cafe were also being neglected and a veterinarian from Watchdog Thailand has collected blood and saliva samples from them.

Unfortunately this story isn't a lone one. One of Japan's popular cat cafes - a country famed for its animal cafes - was closed down last year for violating animal cruelty laws.

City authorities said The Cat's Paw cafe in Tokyo's Sumida district ordered the cafe to close for a month. The 30sq m cafe was home to 62 cats, The Guardian reports, many of them elderly and in bad health.

Because of the cramped conditions, illness allegedly spread among the cats, leading customers to report the cafe for animal cruelty.

It was the first crackdown of its kind in Japan and officials said the city will close down other cafes if they were found to be neglecting animals.

"The cafe breached animal welfare laws, so we took action," Yachiyo Kurihara, of the Tokyo Animal Welfare Centre, told The Guardian.

"We warned the cafe in January and told them how to treat their cats better, but the neglect continued."

But neglect isn't just the only issue. Nicky Trevorrow, a behaviour manager at Cats Protection UK told the BBC that it's a harmful environment for a cat.

"Cat cafes are not a suitable environment for cats because they are in a confined space with a revolving population of people," she said. "They need a stable environment - more so than dogs."

A cat cafe in Tokyo was ordered to close for a month. Photo / Getty Images
A cat cafe in Tokyo was ordered to close for a month. Photo / Getty Images

The RSPCA also doesn't recommend keeping large numbers of cats together in one place, according to the BBC.

And it's not just cats, either. Taiwan opened the world's first cat cafe in 1998, with Japan following suit in 2004, but since then a number of different animal cafes have opened in Japan.

Animal welfare groups and animal activists have been quick to condemn them.

PETA has slammed the country's "quirky" owl cafes as abusive.

"Owls have acute hearing and vision and are birds of prey who have evolved perfectly for flight and precision hunting," the organisation said in a statement to The Guardian.

"It's cruel to deny wild animals the opportunity to fulfil their basic behavioural needs by intensively confining them and exposing them to constant human harassment."

And a wildlife biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), told animal news publication The Dodo that the latest trend - hedgehog cafes - were also inhumane.

"It's inhumane to subject those animals to that kind of treatment," DJ Schuber told the publication. "Hedgehogs are nocturnal, but even if they weren't, the fact that they just allow people to handle and touch and harass these animals is completely inappropriate.

"Some hedgehogs might acclimate to being handled, but they are, by nature and instinct, wild animals. While the animals may or may not demonstrate outward signs of stress, I can guarantee you that they're stressed."