The coming of the “cat cafe”

February 6

Jenny Xie of the Atlantic reports that San Francisco regulators may soon allow the opening of the first American “cat cafe,” where patrons can “sip coffee while petting or playing with a cast of resident felines.” Such institutions are common in Japan and some European countries, but have been barred by strict regulations in the United States.

If cat cafes really do spread to the United States, perhaps it will lead New York City to rethink its misguided regulations barring dogs from bars, which I wrote about here:

As Thom Lambert points out, this is a ridiculous regulation. Dogs near food service areas do pose some risks. But as anyone who has a dog and a kitchen at home knows, they are fairly easy to minimize. More fundamentally, most people can readily understand the (very small) risks involved and decide for themselves whether they want to patronize a dog-friendly bar or not. Market incentives can and do supply plenty of dog-free watering holes for those who don’t want to take the risk of guzzling beer near canines, or simply don’t like dogs.

One of the major advantages of of private property rights is that they provide outlets for people with a wide range of different preferences. Dog-lovers can patronize one set of establishments and dog-haters another. As Thom emphasizes, this kind of diversity also enables communities to flourish, as well as individuals.

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and popular political participation. He is the author of "The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain" (forthcoming) and "Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter."
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Will Baude · February 6