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Cat Cafe to Open In Paris (VIDEO)

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Jul 10, 2013 11:44 AM EDT

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Parisian cafes, long associated with great artists and writers, such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald, will now play host to cats, according to NBC News.

Le Cafe des Chats, a cat cafe first popularized in Japan, is being opened by Margaux Gandelon, a French cat lover. The cafes, known as "neko cafes" in Japan, allow customers to drink their tea or coffee while petting cats, an idea that is spreading to London and Vienna as well.

"While researching, I realized that there was a real demand for a tearoom where cats are kings," Gandelon told TODAY.com.

In large cities, pet lovers can find it difficult to keep a pet, and these cafes aim to provide a haven for those people to get a fix of petting cats.

"[Most] French people like cats but they don't all have the possibility to have them," Gandelon said. "This cafe targets those French people."

Gandelon has raised over $52,000 in public donations in four months for the cafe through Indiegogo, a crowd-funding platform similar to Kickstarter, which demonstrates that there is at least some interest in a cafe of this sort.

The cafe is envisioned by Gandelon as a place for Parisians to escape work, have study sessions and expose children to "the unique relationship between man and cat" as well as an alternative to a "noisy" night out. Gandelon sees the cafe as a respite for patrons.

"To relax, be lulled by purring cats, all while drinking a tea is a philosophy that immediately appealed to me," Gandelon said.

Dr. Gregory Hammer, the former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and a veterinary practitioner in Delaware, said that Gandelon's idea has merit.

"The human animal bond has been well documented, and I do believe the ability to pet and interact with purring cats is a stress reducer," Hammer said.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea.

"What really makes me uncomfortable about this initiative is that the animal would be reduced to being a teddy bear," Christophe Marie, a veterinarian from the Bardot Foundation in Paris, told the Agence France Presse. "Cats don't have a particularly strong desire to be petted by the customers of a cafe."

Hygiene is also an issue to many. Gandelon says that the cats will be kept out of the kitchen and their litter boxes will be in a separate room.

"An entirely separate litter room, accessible by flap, will be available to the cats and cleaned every hour," Gandelon said. She didn't elaborate on what would prevent cat fur from getting past the flap, which could carry all sorts of things that no one wants to think about while eating.

Gandelons YouTube video about her cafe. (In French)

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