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Fun times with friendly felines or fear-filled folly for unhappy cats who can’t get away?
This week saw the opening of Ireland’s first “cat cafe”, the Cat Lounge, in Smithfield, Dublin City Centre. People visit the website to book a 90 minute visiting slot which costs €15. No food or drink is served, but there’s a drink vending machine, so you can buy yourself a cup of coffee or tea while there. The cats are young (kittens up to 6 months of age) that have been gathered from centres where they are looking for homes. They have been health checked, vaccinated and treated for parasites.
The broad idea is to provide a location where cats can be looked at and played with. It’s been said that cafés are a form of supervised indoor pet rental.
There are mixed views on whether or not cat cafés provide a suitable environment for cats.
+ Critics (e.g. RSPCA) claim that it’s unfair to keep high numbers of cats in an enclosed space with visiting humans who never become close friends of the cats.
+ Other expert groups are more supportive, e.g. International Cat Care maintain that while it’s a difficult environment to get right, it’s not impossible.
However all agree that cat cafés need to be regulated and monitored to ensure that the cats (and visiting humans) do not encounter problems.
There are three main issues.
- There may be risks of illnesses including zoonoses i.e. cats carrying certain conditions (such as ringworm) which could be passed on to humans
- Cats might become stressed by the enforced proximity of other cats
- Cats may not enjoy the rotation of different visitors who they do not get to know as individuals
The Dublin Cat Lounge may follow the line of other cat cafes that the cats are obtained obtained from rehoming centres, and so are rescued from being euthanased. In theory, this may be useful, acting as a type of shop window for a rescue group.
The bottom line: it’s great to have cats featured as a positive part of human society, but a great deal of care – using knowledge and experience – needs to be taken to ensure that the cats at the centre of this endeavour do not end up accidentally suffering rather than enjoying the experience.
Pet questions from listeners
- I wish to ask about a problem I’m having with my lovely, formerly fluffy cat named Bernie. About 6 months ago we notice her hind legs were balding due to overgrooming. We brought her to the vet and she was put on Ovarid for 3 weeks and Z-D (a food for skin allergies), it helped for a while, but then it came back about 4 months ago, even though we kept her on a strict Z-D diet. Now her hind legs, her tummy, and her front legs are nearly all bald. She grooms and grooms around the clock, her hind legs are raw and have drawn blood. Her tail has even lost a large amount of hair. I brought her to the vet this week and ovarid is no longer available for cats, he gave her an injection, a 3 month insect repellant and I bought Feliway to plug in to ease her possible stress. In terms of her behavior she is quite happy. She is an indoor cat, and sits and sleeps on the balcony once or twice a day. She is still very affectionate, she sleeps at the bottom of our bed and in various places around the apartment during the day. She does like to go downstairs to the court yard and meows to get me to do so, I only bring her down maybe once a week as she needs to be supervised incase she is let out by someone. Do I need to bring her outside more? Dare I say, bring her for a walk? We already have a lead for her, but she walks me rather than the other way around :-) She has lived in our apartment for 5 years Have you any remedies? I might also add she is 8 years old. Please help, she looks so uncomfortable and we are worried about her
- 2 cats, a male and a female, almost 4 years old, both neutered. At night stay in the conservatory, have water, litter tray etc. Nothing has changed as far as we know, but one cat, the female I think, has started spraying in the conservatory at night. Please help. Is there anything we can do.
- We have a 5 week old rescue kitten he is settling in very well in our house, but I have noticed that he doesn’t meow..he is a happy little chap playing away running up curtains, also he is eating and drinking very well, should I be worried Aine
- Cat had anaesthetic Monday vet, but due to an error the vet had to give a 2nd anaesthetic. Now he has dropped inner eye lid and seems very traumatised. Also has enlarged kidneys but is eating again. I’m wondering what to do next ?
- Do dogs understand time? If I leave the house for 10 mins I get the same welcome as if I’d been gone for five hours.
To find out Pete’s answers to these questions, click on the play button below.