A Japanese phenomenon is set to arrive in London in the near future with the launch of a ‘cat café’, a place to eat and drink while interacting with resident cats.
- The idea is that people living busy lives or those with small houses unsuitable for a pet can come and play with a cat. Many people work long hours and this provides an opportunity to unwind and bond with animals that urban residents may not otherwise be exposed to.
- It is anticipated that people will pay to enter so they can stay as long as they like and become familiar with a cat.
- Concerns about accidents occurring when animals are unsupervised will be alleviated by allowing those who can’t afford to pay the cover charge to volunteer overnight.
- The initiative has been crowd-funded, with over £100,000 pledged to aid start-up of the cat café. This indicates a substantial amount of public support for the venture, perhaps sparking proliferation of more cat cafes as has been the case in Japan.
Implications and next steps: Whilst interaction with companion animals in a relaxed setting may offer positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of customers, there may be some possible environmental health implications with regard to food safety and food hygiene ratings. The cafés may also need to comply with duty of care provisions under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) by ensuring the environment in which the cats live complies with the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats (Defra 2009).