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Imagine rushing into your favorite coffee shop on a busy, blustery day and being greeted by not only a friendly barista, but a furry feline eager to commune with you over coffee and a good book. Sound cozy? Comforting?
It does to many animal lovers, and innovative entrepreneurs are finding great success by combining urban café culture with the companionship of cats. The concept of cat cafés originated in Taiwan and spread quickly to Japan, where there are now at least 100 cat cafés in the city. Their growing popularity is attributed to the limiting roaming space of smaller apartments and landlords who forbid pets, as well as city-dwellers' long working hours.
"A cat café is just like a regular café," says Lauren Pears, who is looking to bring the trend to east London as 'Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium'. "It sells coffee, tea, cake and snacks... but with a difference. It's full of cats.” If her online fundraising efforts succeed, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium will be the first of its kind in the UK. For £5, patrons will gain entry to the cafe, where they can stay as long as they like sitting in wingback armchairs, stroking over a dozen cats, using Wi-Fi, playing board games, perusing the in-house library, and buying hot drinks and snacks.
The idea of the café is to promote the tactile and relaxing experience of petting the resident animals, but also to find the fostered felines proper homes. If the visitors to Small Things café in Ontario, Canada fall in love with the kitty that they interact with, they are encouraged to adopt it. The fees for the cats range from $15 – $75 and all of the animals are vaccinated. Pears’ vision for her London outpost includes VIP memberships for regular visitors and cat sponsorship packages for animal lovers who want to care for an animal, but for whom domestic adoption in the city is not feasible.
Of course, there are certain health regulations to take into account and clearance with the health administration officials is paramount. However, the whole idea seems to be warmly received, and according to reports by the owners of Small Things, there have been no complaints during the first year of the business.
Sounds like a mutually purrrfect relationship to us.