Animal Lovers Fume at Newly Announced ‘Cat Curfew’ in Japan

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Michael Caronna / REUTERS

Customers at the Cat Cafe Calico in Tokyo on Nov. 3, 2007. It is one of several cafés where visitors can mingle with cats as they enjoy a cup of tea

Japan’s popular cat cafés — where visitors can pay to drop in for some rest and relaxation with the felines — are getting slapped with a curfew.

A revision to Japan’s animal-protection law will soon enforce the 8 p.m. curfew on the “public display of cats and dogs,” according to Reuters, beginning June 1. The law is coming to a head with cat cafés, where customers pay to play with the animals. Popular in Tokyo, the cafés cater to animal lovers who, because of housing regulations, aren’t allowed to have pets in their homes, where space is often at a premium.

(VIDEO: Paying for Petting Time in Japan’s Cat Cafés)

Unfortunately, it is these same customers who often trickle in to de-stress after work, usually after 8 p.m. Some cat-café owners have voiced concerns, given that they see the majority of their business in the evening. Besides losing just the revenue, owners are now worried about how to provide for the animals.

Hiromi Kawase, owner of one cat café that closes its doors at 10 p.m., expressed displeasure. “Everybody knows cats are really happy in the evening, with their big, cute eyes,” she told Reuters. “So I just can’t understand why the people at the top are ignoring this. It’s really strange.”

MORE: Lunch Break: Japan’s Cat Cafés

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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