Now plans are under way for Scotland to get its first Cat Café – a place where people without pets of their own can get a taste of feline companionship, along with a cup of tea and slice of cake.
The Edinburgh café – the brainchild of sisters Ania and Marta Tajsiak – aims to resemble a cosy living room with a number of cats strolling around to be stroked by customers who want to be close to animals but cannot have their own.
It will also act as a matchmaking site for people who are looking to take on a rescue cat. The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home will provide the animals to the café, which will act as a temporary foster home.
“We first heard about this happening in Japan a few years ago and thought it was a great idea,” said Ania. “At the time, we couldn’t have cats of our own as we lived in a small flat so we would have loved there to be something like this. Now, there are cat cafés in Moscow, Poland and Budapest and they have all been really popular, booked for months in advance.”
Cat cafés have proved to be sell-outs overseas with long waiting lists for tables.
“We couldn’t believe how well they had done, so thought ‘why not open one here?’ said Ania, who is from Poland.
“I used to work in a café for years, so I’m used to how they run.
“People who would like to adopt a cat, but are maybe not sure, or feel put off my going to one of the shelters, can get to know our cats in relaxed surroundings.
“Even if they do not decide to adopt one of them – though they will all be available for adoption – it might make them feel comfortable to take on a pet.”
The café will include a large area for customers – where food will be delivered complete with a cake guard to keep treats safe from greedy felines – and a kitchen, where the cats will not be allowed.
It will also have a separate area for cats to sleep – and for when they need some “quiet time”, away from customers.
The pair, who studied psychology and now work with people with additional learning needs, have already received the blessing of the Food Standards Agency in Scotland and are now searching for premises for their venture, which they hope will be in the south of Edinburgh.
Crowdfunding for the project opened last week on Indiegogo and has already attracted more than £1,000 of the £30,000 it needs to open.
Options on offer on the crowdfunding site range from a £500 “cat patron” package, – which pays for the costs of a cat for a year – to a £5 “catfeine fix”, which entitles the backer to a hot drink at the café when it opens. Other funding options include the chance to hang a picture of your own cat on the café wall – for £10.