A recent article published by the BBC examined the growing trend of cat cafes. Eight are currently open for business in the UK, with three more due to open by the end of the year, and at least six more in 2017. With these numbers increasing, the article asks an important question – are cat cafes good for cats?
International Cat Care believes that how well cats cope in cat cafes depends a great deal on the expertise of those who choose the cats and look after them. While the primary purpose of cat cafes is to provide an attraction for customers, the cat’s welfare must be given equal consideration. As the popularity of cat cafes increases we need a pragmatic approach to provide the best advice for the care of these cats - the principles are the same as for other situations where cats are kept in multi-cat situations, for example in a multi-cat household or re-homing/rescue centre.
Cats in a cat cafe can become stressed because of constant visitors (usually people previously unknown to the cats), living alongside other cats, particularly if there are large numbers in a relatively small space, and if the make up of the cat group also changes. For good cat well-being cats need to be able to feel in control of their environment and the interactions they have, for example, they may wish to distance themselves from people or other cats or visit a quiet area if they wish, or to be able to interact if they desire. Choosing cats which enjoy or actively seek and initiate human interaction and selecting cats which have been socialised with other cats, and have been together as kittens, is an ideal start.
Cats which are stressed by the cat cafe environment should be identified. If positive interventions are not working, then they should be rehomed. Cat cafes need to be able to recognise, understand and deal with any problems. They also need to manage expectations of their customers and ensure cats have to interact only when they want to. Educating staff and customers to be very aware of the subtle behaviours of cats, which can alert them to feline stress or distress, can help to improve customer-cat interactions.
Using a cat cafe as a place from which to adopt cats may, on the surface, seem to be a great idea. However a continuous throughput of cats could be highly stressful for many felines, and may also increase the risk of bringing disease into the group. We should be encouraging quality re-homing/ rescue centres which can house and manage cats in a knowledgeable way and can pass on good information to new owners.
The full article published from the BBC can be found here.