Hands up (or should I say ‘paws up’) who has been to a cat café before? Probably not many of us have.
There are approximately 150 cat cafes in Japan, and around 30 throughout the rest of the world with Australia’s first cat cafe opening its doors last week.
A cat café sounds like a crazy concept. It’s not a café for people to bring their own feline friends along to enjoy a Devonshire tea, but rather a café that is also home to between 10-20 resident cats that have been rescued from animal shelters and pounds.
Cat cafes were designed for those who love spending time with cats but whose lifestyles or living arrangements don’t allow for them to have their own fur-baby. Visitors arrive at the cat café and can order food and drink from a menu. Visitors then pay an extra fee (usually around $10 per hour) which allows them take their purchases down to the cat room and spend some time with the resident cats.
The first cat café, Cat Flower Garden, opened in Taipei in 1998 with Japan following suit in 2004. In the last decade, cat cafes have popped up in the US, Asia, Europe and even in the Middle East. As of Wednesday 30 July, Australia’s first cat café opened on Queen Street in Melbourne’s CBD. Usually with cat cafes you can make bookings or just walk in off the street but Cat Café Melbourne has proved to be in such high demand that a booking waitlist has formed and currently it’s a five day wait to visit the cats with the following two days nearly at capacity.
As a cat lover myself, I think cat cafes are a fantastic idea with mutual benefits to both the humans that visit and also to the cats. People suffering loneliness visit cat cafes to get some extra love and cuddles from the cats. The most frequent visitors are university students who have moved away from home for their study, and retirees who perhaps don’t have the same level of social activity as they once did. Studies have also proven that interaction with cats can help lower high blood pressure and also reduce anxiety and stress levels. I can vouch for this on a personal level, my happiness levels increased ten-fold from the day I got my own cat.
The 11 cats that call Cat Café Melbourne home were all rescued from local animal shelters and the Café raises money to donate back to the shelters to ensure that as many cats as possible are rescued and looked after. Being a resident cat would be hugely beneficial to the wellbeing of the lucky few as they have contact with other cats, a safe place to live, up to date vet checks, and most importantly – a never-ending supply of cuddles and pats!
Cat Cafes usually come with a set of basic rules that include not disturbing the cats if they’re sleeping (so bad luck if you turn up and all 11 kitties are partaking in an afternoon snooze!), and no flash photography. Some cat cafes also have an age restriction, usually visitors have to be at least 7 or 8 years old, to ensure that the cats are not tormented or getting their tails pulled!
I’d love to see a cat café set up shop in Canberra, I’d love it even more if I was the one to open it. Canberra has a lot of people in high-level, extremely stressful jobs. Perhaps a visit with the cats would do them good!
As for location, I think somewhere in the city would be the perfect location for the Canberra Cat Café. It’s easy to access by public transport and also has a busy thoroughfare so plenty of visitors would be drawn in from the streets. Would you visit?