Sunday, 8 February 2015

Happy Cats Café

It’s not very often that a completely random follower on Twitter actually intrigues me enough to follow back, view their website (even when the link doesn’t work at first and I have to search for it instead!) and end up ‘pledging’ money to them – all within the space of about half an hour. In fact, the money part has never happened before (I don’t go throwing money around willy-nilly! (Willy-nilly is a ridiculously weird phrase…)).

If you’re a regular user of Twitter and you actually tweet often, as I do, then you’re probably prone to picking up more than a few strange accounts as new followers each week. Most don’t stay followers for long as they probably picked up on a certain word or phrase you tweeted and are trying to promote their own business or just their own personal Twitter account. I normally at least read the bio of new followers, but very rarely do I actually follow back.

Today was an exception. Probably mostly because it involved cats.
Cats and good cause.

(I strongly believe that their logo should use an accent over the e! (I hate it when people pronounce café as kaff. It sounds like it belongs in Eastenders, which is certainly not a good thing! I’m pretty sure that this Happy Cats Café is indeed intended to be pronounced café.) But cute coffee-bearing cat here anyway.)

The Happy Cats Café is, or at least will be, a cat café in Birmingham – the first of its kind, at least in that area of the UK (there’s definitely one cat café in London, I haven’t been, but I’m not sure about anywhere else in the UK). At the minute it is running as a Kickstarter campaign and needs to reach its goal of £10,000 if it is going to become a reality. I really hope it does!

I’d heard of Kickstarter before today but didn’t really know how it works. Basically you pledge (meaning you don’t actually pay right away) whatever amount of money you can to a cause you think is worthy. And, assuming they reach their target (that being when you would pay, but only if they are successful), you are rewarded with something when the idea becomes a reality. In my case, and for the money I pledged today, I would get to be amongst the cats at the Happy Cats Café for 45 minutes with whoever I decide to bring along – plus a cuppa each, as it is a café afterall.

Now, ‘what is this cat café thing anyway?’ I hear you asking. It, like many of lifes greatest wonders, comes from Japan. Of course, the Japanese love cats! Look, here’s Maru:

A cat café is a themed café. Apart from the usual servings of a café, the charm arises from interaction with cats that walk around the café. They can be watched and played with if they wish. Cat cafés are often used by those that cannot have cats in their own homes, due to housing restrictions and living situations etc. Cats therefore provide relaxing companionship in what some people experience as a lonely urban life.

Cat cafés are very popular in Japan, with Tokyo being home to at least 39 cat cafés already*Japanese cat cafés feature strict rules to ensure cleanliness and animal welfare, in particular seeking to ensure that the cats are not disturbed by excessive and unwanted attention, such as by young children or when sleeping. Many cat cafés also seek to raise awareness of cat welfare issues, for example abandoned and stray cats and many often have cats from local animal shelters to help them lose any fear of humans and advertise them for possible adoption. Happy Cats Café on Kickstarter

* sadly, I didn’t actually visit any cat cafés when I was in Tokyo last year. I know, I know! I should have. I even saw a sign for one in Asakusa… So I’ve never been to a cat café, Japanese or otherwise.

Ally and Damian, the people behind the Happy Cats Café idea, want their cat café to have a Japanese theme in terms of the design and ethic. Which, quite frankly, sounds amazing to a Japanophile-cat-lover like me. Plus it reflects on the origin of the whole cat café idea.

Check out the Kickstarter video, below, and join me in pledging to this great cause… well, if you agree that it’s a great cause!

1 comment:

  1. There's two planned for Birmingham actually. The other is a bit unfortunately named just as "The Cat Cafe" and that isn't really helping them with being able to Google.

    Besides Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in London, the others around the country are Kitty Cafe in Nottingham, Maison de Moggy and Cattitude in Edinburgh.

    Other honourable mentions are: Koneko Cat Café in Brighton (probably not going to happen) and Totnes Cats Cafe (closed)