Published on February 25, 2013 | by Tsubasa Kawata

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Feline like an alternative café experience?

A cat café in Kyoto, Japan.

The UK hopes to see its very first cat café in east London soon [Flickr: sprklg]

Where is your favourite place to feel relaxed and how do you go about doing so? Maybe you listen to your favourite music or simply enjoy chilling at home.

Well, this could soon change, since east London is about to see a new relaxation sanctuary – the city’s very first cat café.

Just like any normal café, a cat café is a place where you can eat, drink and relax by yourself or with a few mates.

However, it has one significant difference – as well as being able to enjoy hot and cold beverages, sandwiches and small bites, you can play with cute cats too.

Additionally, they offer Wi-Fi, board games and a number of books and magazines from their in-store bookshelf.

Cat cafés are a haven and heaven for cat and animal lovers alike, where guests can sit, relax and enjoy playing with friendly cats.

The concept originally hails from Taiwan and began to grow in popularity in Japan, where the first one opened in 2004.

Now there are more than 39 cat cafés in Tokyo alone. Since the emergence of the new trend, the popularity of cat cafés has expanded globally, reaching many countries including Russia and Austria.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that the enthusiasm for this trend has finally reached the UK.

A place to relax

For the majority of people, the most attractive point of these places of relaxation is certainly the touching, playing and communicating with cute cats.

“It’s really helpful for getting rid of stress and it’s quite good as a new style of business.” Hiroyoshi Tanemura

For many reasons, it is difficult for people in London to own a pet because of long working hours, tiny room sizes, lack of outdoor space and strict landlords.

So cat cafés in the city would solve this matter for animal lovers who long to own their own pets.

They help guests to forget work and the daily stresses of life, offering relaxation through cat petting and delicious hot drinks. Additionally, students can completely forget about essay deadlines and dissertation stress.

Hiroyoshi Tanemura, a BA Graphic Design student at CSM, explains: “It’s really helpful for getting rid of stress and it’s quite good as a new style of business.”

Wakana Kinjo, 24, an enthusiast for cat cafés says that, “a cat café is not only a place for touching and playing with cats, but it also gives people more opportunities to communicate with other cat lovers. It’s a really happy thing to be able to meet and chat to people who have the same interest.”

Kinjo has been a devotee of cats and cat cafés since she was a high school student, and currently visits cafés twice a week.

“I can’t imagine the world without cat cafés in my life and I can’t live without cat cafés. Cat cafés are the only place for me to feel relaxed and comfortable after working hard,” Kinjo told us.

Controversy

Scientifically, it has been proved that playing with animals is a great way to reduce stress levels, but while they are set to become the next big trend in London, it is vital that the cats are well looked after and that their wellbeing is ensured.

Minami Takahashi, a BA Fine Art student at CSM argues: “If people who are unfamiliar with cats try to touch the cats, and don’t know how to approach them, it is really stressful for the cats in a café – cats are not a toy.”

As a matter of fact, this is one of the controversial matters that cat cafés face; while they may be a place for relaxation for people, they also double up as the home that the cats live in.

For the sake of success of the UK’s first cat café, it is required that they set up rules and instructions for guests in order to take care of the cats and maintain their condition.

It is vital that guests who are new to taking care of animals are told how to treat the cats gently and take good care of them – taking into account their feelings.

As long as both the cat cafés and guests follow the instructions, there is no doubt that London’s first cat café will become a huge success.

Help wanted

Lauren Pears, a senior project manager at Sony Computer Entertainment, is the founder who hopes to open London’s very first cat café called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in east London – but she is looking for help to achieve it.

Pears herself is a cat lover and used to own cats when she worked in Australia. However, she had to give up owning cats when she moved to London because of the size of her flat.

“I can’t imagine the world without cat cafés in my life and I can’t live without cat cafés.” Wakana Kinjo

The idea of a cat café came to her when she noticed that people frequently stop to pet cats in the street. So, she decided to start a fixed funding campaign for her cat emporium.

She plans to divide it into three areas – one for the cats, one for the cats and people together and another area where people can just eat and drink.

The café has to separate the cats from the area where the food and drink are prepared under legal requirements, making it a safe, healthy and hygienic place for the customers.

There would be about 20 cats going to the café from Mayhew Animal Home in Kensal Green, London where abandoned and neglected animals live.

Forsaken feline funding

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium would become the new home for the cats and with the right funding, Pears would be able to achieve this in order to support the forsaken felines.

Pears requires the funding to help towards the start-up costs, which include cat adoption costs, medical checking, daily cat necessities such as toys, beds and cat food, kitchen equipment, tableware and furniture.

Pears aims to gather £108,000 of funding, so she is asking people to donate anything from £5.00 up to £20,000. The donators will receive special benefits such as a free visit pass and free cake vouchers, depending on how much they contribute.

In addition, the official website for funding the campaign highlights: “We don’t keep any of the money if we don’t reach our target. You will not be out of pocket if we don’t succeed.”

People wishing to support the cat café should visit www.indiegogo.com/ladydscatemporium and those looking to find out more details should head to the official website at www.ladydinahs.com

 

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