Cat cafes are a fairly recent trend in the UK, Europe and the Western world, but have been around for much longer in other countries such as Japan and Taiwan.
Where did cat cafes start?
The first noted cat cafe opened in Taipei, Taiwan in the late 90s. But the phenomenon is usually much more closely associated with Japan. The Japanese truly embraced the concept and still have the most cat cafes in the world today.
In the UK, the first cat cafe was in Totnes (sadly now closed), opening in 2013. However the idea rapidly gained popularity due to a crowdfunding campaign for a London cat cafe (now Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in East London) towards the end of 2012. The campaign gained a huge amount of press coverage throughout the country, and the cafe opened in early 2014.
A wave of similar crowdfunding campaigns across other UK cities followed, with varying levels of success. Some of the first UK cafes to open included Maison de Moggy in Edinburgh, Kitty Cafe in Nottingham and Mog on the Tyne in Newcastle. Willows Cat Adoption Centre in South Shields also opened a cafe to support its adoption centre and give visitors the chance to bond with cats in a relaxed environment.
Now many UK cities have cat cafes, with more openings reported often. As a nation of pet lovers, the UK seems to have got on board with the idea wholeheartedly, despite some reservations from animal welfare organisations.