TOKYO (AP) — Felines at Japan's popular "cat cafes" are now allowed to stay up until 10 p.m. to interact with customers.
The Environment Ministry's animal rights panel said Wednesday that the cats will be allowed to hang out two hours later than the old guidelines allowed.
Under the 2012 guidelines, cats and other animals at pet shops could not be displayed after 8 p.m.
Cat cafes — establishments where customers can see and play with cats — were provisionally allowed to have their cats out until 10 p.m. while the impact of the nightlife on their health could be studied. During the trial period, only cats age 1 or older that were free to take a break were allowed to be out at cafes for up to 12 hours.
Experts concluded that the late hours had no noticeable effect on the cats' stress levels.
Cafe owners say their felines are not under stress while being out late because they are nocturnal anyway and become used to a cafe environment while growing up.
Japan has hundreds of cat cafes. Tokyo alone has more than 50 which are frequented by tourists and students during the day and by many others who visit after work.
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