It’s a point worth making: in the UK the coronavirus pandemic may end up permanently closing cat cafés because of the ongoing lockdowns and Tier 3 semi-lockdowns resulting in their temporary closure. Temporary closures for a significant time can lead to permanent closures for obvious reasons.
One possible victim of the coronavirus pandemic is Cosy Cat Café in William Street, Herne Bay. This is the UK’s first cat café but the management fear that it could be forced to close in the New Year with the cats being put into rescue centres. They’ve launched a fundraiser in an attempt to save the business. There are 14 cats at the premises aged between one and 16. They’ve been living there since the café opened in June 2018. They’ve sadly ended up being burdened with £30,000 of losses during this damnable pandemic. If the appeal for funding fails, Ms Norfolk, the owner, fears that they will have to close. She says that, “I have lots of sleepless nights thinking about it”. The running costs are about £2,000 a month.
Cat cafés are in effect cat rescue centres. They are affiliated to rescue organisations and an extension of them. If you close cat cafés you lose a cat rescue facility which is detrimental to cat welfare. Although, it has to be admitted, that there are only eight cat cafés, as far as I’m aware, in the UK.
I’m told that there are 72 cat cafés in the United States, 44 have been open for 12 months. In other words they are quite new. It is a growing market. America has been less rigourous in closing hospitality businesses such as cafés to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and therefore I would expect there to be less of an impact on these businesses in the long term.
The well-known UK cat rescue organisation, Cats Protection, are dubious about the cat welfare aspects of cat cafés because the cats have to meet a constantly changing human population so the cats are meeting strange people in quite a compressed environment where there is noise and activity. In short, it is not an ideal environment. And the visitors to a cat café are encouraged to pet and handle the cats.
No doubt the cats are selected to be very tolerant of interactions with people they don’t know but you can see how I could go wrong. The cats might become stressed and a human might become scratched! And what about people who are allergic to cats but don’t know it?
I’m painting a far too pessimistic picture. Cat cafés are generally successful and they can be good for the cats because they are outlets for rehoming. Although some charities including the RSPCA agree with Cats Protection and say that they aren’t suitable homes for cats.
A well-known cat café is Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in Shoreditch, London. It is am amazing place. I’d recommend it if you are a cat fan. They had or have 13 cats mingling with customers. The staff say that they have a system in which cats are checked every four hours to make sure that everything is going well in their interactions with customers. They know their cats’ personalities and they know whether they are content or not.
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