Apparently there is a trend in Japan (at least 8 cafes in Tokyo) where people pay $8-$12 an hour to sip tea and play with cats. The cafes require handwashing and often have previously-homeless cats as their resident cats.
I'm not sure what I think about this. On the surface it seems okay--it gives some cats a home and lets people interact with animals who for some reason or another, don't have one at home. On the other hand, I hope it doesn't encourage these people away from pursuing actually owning a cat because they know they can always just visit one.
It also reminds me of the rent-a-dog trend that started to take off in NYC a few years ago. What happens when these cats get older? Who will take care of the cat who gets sick? Yes, it's probably a better life than on the street but let's hope that these cats are loved and cherished even when they aren't so cute. Pets aren't robots and should be treated as more than just commodities.
I do like the idea of Arlington's Stray Cat Cafe. There aren't any real cats there, just paintings and photographs of strays, but their website links to an adoption site and the restaurant (along with its sister "The Lost Dog Cafe") supports adoptions. I've never eaten there so I can't say anything about the food, but for a place that came up when I was looking up cat cafes in Tokyo, it sounds pretty cool.
(For another photo of a cat cafe that won't display here, go to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28862190/displaymode/1107/s/2/framenumber/5/)