Cat Cafés: Inhumane Concept? – Discuss

logo Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium

Several major animal charities have been trying to stop the opening of the new cat café, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, in the East End of London (Shoreditch). They claim the concept of the cat café is inhumane1. That is a big statement.

The café is being opened by an Australian, Lauren Pears who correctly remarks that her business would fail if the concept was inhumane, meaning that the cats were not looked after properly.

The major animal charities have refused to supply the café with cats1. I find this a bit extreme.

However, it is an interesting topic. I have not read about their specific objections and why they consider it inhumane so I’ll decide for myself.

I think cat cafés are basically a good idea. However perhaps the concern is that the concept involves placing cats that are strangers to each other in a strange, perhaps noisy, place where they have to encounter strange people all day long who want to touch them.  I can see that that is a potentially big problem. However, I think the main concerns can be overcome and isn’t it better being a cat café cat than being an unwanted cat without a home?

The environment of the cat café can be very cat orientated with plenty of climbs (vertical movement) and hiding places including an outside area.  I believe that an excellent cat-friendly environment is planned. Secondly, provided the cats are selected carefully, they will get along OK and also they will be more accepting of human contact from strangers. I believe this is about cat personality and experience (socialisation). The importance of cat selection cannot be overemphasised, I feel. They will have to get along from the word go. There will also have to be a keen focus on health issues to prevent infectious diseases.

Community cats in some countries are very accepting of continual contact with strange people and also accepting of group living as they live in cat colonies all the time.

The modern domestic cat is really quite sociable. The point I am making is that provided the environment is excellent and the management good the cats living in a cat café should have a decent if not excellent life and one that is probably better than the one they came from.

The general public seem to have an alternative view to these animal charities. One person generously donated £20,000 ($32,000) to become the owner of one cat, while 20 people have sponsored a cat for a year at a cost of £500 each.

In all, Lauren Pears are secured £109,000 ($173,000) in funding from the public, which has got the project off the ground with planning permission recently granted. Most sponsors are, unsurprisingly, women. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium has taken thousands of advanced bookings.

There will be 10 staff on duty at all times: one manager and nine assistants. Clearly the successful applicants will come from the ranks of people with qualifications and experience in working with animals.

Note: the logo is reproduced here on the basis that it helps promote the business and links to the business’s website.

Ref: (1) Times Newspaper Sept 14th 2013.

12 thoughts on “Cat Cafés: Inhumane Concept? – Discuss”

  1. I think Cat Cafes are a good idea as long as the people caring for the cats are kind and thoughtful about their welfare.
    I’m surprised to hear that cat charities are against them when there are so many older cats in care.

  2. Excellent and i didn’t know that “Cat Cafe ” is such a big hit in London.It originated in Japan and in fact i took a fancy for cats after a ships visit to Tokyo in 1995.The Japanese are crazy about cats.Most of the shops had a cat sitting quietly and i purchased a “Cast Memento”, memories of the Tokyo visit.In London i find it hard to understand as to the reasons some people consider a “CAT CAFE” inhuman? Is “EUTHANIZING(KILLING)” of stray or abandoned cats in London’s cat shelters humane ? I could have become a decent lawyer ! Here is a photo of the cat memento purchased in Tokyo in 1995, The cat has the English word “DAYAN” written on it. Can anyone please explain the meaning of the word “Dayan” in Japaneses or is it just a cats name ?

    • Hi Rudolph. Living in magical land is called Wachifield is a leading character who is a mischievous but sensitive cat named Dayan. It is a story written by a Japanese female artist called Ikeda who was inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, among other things.

      I agree that it is very odd that animal charities call cat cafes inhumane for cats. Maybe they sense the the cat cafe concept is competition to their organisations. Perhaps they see them proliferating and don’t like that because bottom line charities are businesses.

  3. How can they say it’s abuse when they haven’t even seen it. It’s not like the owners will keep unhappy cats there is it? All the videos i have seen of these places the cats are all happy looking. You would have thought these charities would at least have researched it on youtube. I think they just want to be heard. Let them help cats which aren’t in shelters then. Ones from elsewhere that need help. The charities can sod off. Anything to help cats is worth a try – and shouldn’t be spoiled in a bid for more donations and free attention.

    Do you think they honestly believe the poeple running the place are going to force cats against their wills? No, duh. They will only be there if they are ok and doing fine. And this place will earn money and homes and love for cats.

    I’m sorry but it’s so typically British to come out with complaining of that nature. I thought the only issue was hygiene, but no, in England we have the whataboutery of British charity. As much as those charities may be very good, this kind of thing just makes them look stupid. Let it open. Let it run. Give it a chance – or shut up.

    • It’s like the charities are doing a pre-emptive complaining strike to make them look compassionate and ruin chances for the cafe. The one thing about charities is they have a sort of control over what people think assuming people take them for what they say they are. But charities are often something quite different.

    • I agree. It is “reactionary”. I guess the charities are managed by people who are set in their ways. They want to keep things as they are. As you I doubt whether they have fully researched cat cafes.

      It is way too negative to say cat cafes are “inhumane”. I hope the Times got that quote right. It is seems over-the-top to me.

      • I think the people at the top of charities, who are paid staff, don’t have the knowledge or the experience or the compassion of the volunteers.
        How can they know from sitting in plush offices the real nitty gritty of cat rescue and how difficult it is to rehome so many unwanted adult cats!
        I wholeheartedly support our local Cats Protection because I know Marion has the best interests of the cats at heart and although she has to follow CP guidelines on cat welfare she uses her own judgement for the good of cats because she has years of experience in doing so.
        I wouldn’t donate directly to CP headquarters nor to any other headquarters of any charities, the money is needed and better spent by those people like Marion who do it for love, not for money.

        • Very good point Ruth. Charities these days tend to be run (at the top) by men in suits but the heart of a cat charity is ladies in overalls 😉 The men in suits don’t seem to have the same mentality and connection with the cats or animals as the people on the front line.

          As you say, I’d give money to Marion but not to a large organisation where the money goes into a large black hole some of which is used at the front line.

  4. I think living in a Cat Café would suit older quieter cats who are content to sit on peoples laps and let them stroke and make a fuss of them. As long as attention isn’t forced on them when they don’t want it and they have plenty of high perches to sit on, private places to go for a snooze and some access to outdoors of course.
    How can that be worse for unwanted older cats than sitting in a cage without much hope of adoption?

    • I am pleased we agree. I like the idea of older cats. They have more experience and they are more able to accept disruptions.

      I would hope that the owner of the cafe makes sure that customers are in some way either vetted or supervised.

      You could get a situation where a customer mishandled a cat leading to a defensive response from the cat.

      They’ll probably put some instructions up on the wall or something.


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