Hot spring town ryokan lets guests try out the experience of owning a cat so they can learn if they want a permanent pet of their very own.

Traditional Japanese interior design is an exercise in elegant simplicity, so when staying at a ryokan (Japanese inn) you should expect pretty basic furnishings. However, there’s one ryokan which offers what some people would say is the most luxurious amenity of all: a cat.

Located in the hot spring town of Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, My Cat Yugawara is actually an attractive destination for people who don’t have a cat of their own. That’s because of its “Trial” packages which let you try out the experience of living with a cat, in order to better gauge whether you’d like to permanently make a feline friend part of your household.

Guests staying on a trial package will share their room with a cat, who will arrive at 5:30 in the evening and stay until 9 the next morning. During that time, you’re asked not to leave the cat unattended, but it’s not like you’ll be wanting to go anywhere when you’ve got one of these cute little guys to hang out with.

But don’t mistakenly think the cat is on the clock and working to entertain you. Instead, you’ll be responsible for taking care of the animal, including managing its litter box, which you’ll be given, along with a scoop, at check in.

First-time guests on a Trial package are required to do at least one session in the attached My Cat Yugawara cat cafe, so that the staff can make sure you’re comfortable around the animals, and vice-versa.

▼ Of the inn’s six rooms, four are available for the Trial packages.

As hinted at in the name, the Trial plan is aimed at people who think they might want to have a cat as a pet, but aren’t entirely sure. After all, even if you enjoy spending 30 or 60 minutes playing with a cat in a cafe, having one as a pet is a comprehensive lifestyle change and a big, sometimes unpleasant responsibility. A cat may keep you up at night with its meowing, leave behind a noticeable odor when it makes a deposit in the litter box, and infringe on your social life by keeping you stuck at home. They will shed, and they might even occasionally tear up your clothes or scratch your brand-new handbag (My Cat Yugawara states that the hotel waives any responsibility for damage to guests’ belongings caused by their Trial cat). Regardless, pets still require ample amounts of love and attention from their owners.

And of course, the payoff for all those inconveniences of pet ownership is getting to spend lots of time with your animal. Through its Trial package, My Cat Yugawara hopes to help cat lovers find where their personal level of commitment lies, and if after spending the night in the inn they’re sure that they not only want to live with a cat, but that they want to live with the cat they spent the night with, adoption is possible, pending a successful interview to determine that the home you’re offering to provide will be a suitable one for the cat.

The Trial package is a 2,200-yen [U$21] per-cat surcharge over the hotel’s regular price of 4,950 yen per person, or room rate of 3,190 yen per guest for those staying in a room without a private bathroom. All rates are without meals, though the inn can help with placing orders with local restaurants that will deliver pizza or sushi (though if you opt for the latter, your cat roommate may ask you to share the tastiest cuts of fish).

Hotel information
My Cat Yugawara / まいきゃっと湯河原
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Yugawara-machi Fukuura 244-1

Source: My Cat Yugawara via Livedoor News/J Town Net
Top image: My Cat Yugawara
Insert images: My Cat Yugawara (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
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