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Osaka cat lovers warm their feet, hearts at footbath featuring feline friends

Visitors enjoy a footbath while playing with cats at the Neko Yokujo cat bath house in Osaka's Chuo Ward. (Mainichi/Ryoichi Mochizuki)

OSAKA -- Cat lovers are getting a little tender loving care for both body and mind at a spot in this western Japanese city combining hot footbaths with the chance to snuggle and play with some friendly kitties.

Neko Yokujo, meaning "cat bath house" in Japanese, is operated by Gifu-based firm Neco Republic, which manages cat cafes across the country. The 15 cats now at the branch in Osaka's Chuo Ward were originally rescues coming from different backgrounds, including being picked up by local health centers and living in a house overcrowded with other cats. Visitors can try their hand at caring for the felines, and even adopt their favorite.

Neko Hatago, a hostel where guests can stay with cats, is attached to the cat bath house.

Atsushi Hatanaka, 36, and Yuki Tatsumi, 34, who visited the cafe on a date, smiled and told a reporter that they could really relax. The facility's 52-year-old manager Naomi Nishikubo said, "I hope we'll be a bridge between rescued cats and cat lovers."

(Japanese original by Ryoichi Mochizuki, Osaka Photo Department)

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