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 School of Law. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy. He is the author of Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter (Stanford University Press, 2013), and coauthor of A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Somin has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the University of Hamburg, Germany, and the University of Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before joining the faculty at George Mason, Somin was the John M. Olin Fellow in Law at Northwestern University Law School in 2002-2003. In 2001-2002, he clerked for the Hon. Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Professor Somin earned his B.A., Summa Cum Laude, at Amherst College, M.A. in Political Science from Harvard University, and J.D. from Yale Law School.
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Will Baude | February 6