Hanging out with cool cats at the cafe

The Cat Cafe

Many millions of people in the UK own a pet and according to psychologists, they make us healthier and happier. For many of us though, long hours at work, lack of disposable income or restricted living space make owning a pet near impossible.

Cat cafés are a growing phenomenon enabling people to spend time with a feline without any of the responsibilities that accompany ownership. A trip to a cat café is becoming an increasingly popular way of reaping the emotional benefits of a quick cuddle or petting session without worrying about the full-time job of caring for a cat when they need feeding, a trip to the vet or a change of litter.

The international trend for cat cafes originated in Taipei, Taiwan, where the world’s first feline café, Cat Flower Garden, opened in 1998. Tourists flocked to the venue and took the concept over to Japan. The first Japanese cat café opened in Osaka in 2005, and now there are said to be nearly 40 in Tokyo alone.

Japan has taken the original concept to another level since the early days when cats took centre stage. Some of the liveliest cafes now have owls, rabbits and goats available for petting. Tokyo’s Fukoro no Mise (shop of owls) often has a two-month waiting list.

Here in the UK, the Food Standards Agency allows animals into a café but legislates that “reasonable precaution” must be taken (and demonstrable) to prevent domestic animals from accessing food preparation areas.

Café owners are careful to choose moggies that enjoy the company of other cats and people, often working with vets to make sure this is the case. In some instances cats come from rescue centres and are offered to customers for adoption while ‘working’.

A study by Miami University found that pet owners tend to be healthier and happier. Researcher Allen McConnell explained: “Pet owners have greater self-esteem, are physically fitter, tend to be less lonely, are more conscientious, more extroverted, tend to be less fearful and less preoccupied than non-owners.”

So it’s scientifically proven that having a four-legged friend on the scene can be a real boost for us, but for those who can’t keep a pet at home, animal cafes certainly seem like the perfect alternative.

Picture courtesy of Nottinghampost.com

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