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A day at the Cat Cafe in Manchester

PUBLISHED: 09:43 29 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:13 28 September 2017

Georgina spots something she likes the look of

Georgina spots something she likes the look of

Archant

Cake, coffee and…cats? It’s an unusual combination but it’s proving to be purrfect for cat lovers, as feline fan Rebekka O’Grady discovers

Owners, Sarah Close and Ellie CloseOwners, Sarah Close and Ellie Close

It’s my idea of heaven - spending a few hours enjoying a good cup of coffee and piece of cake, accompanied by my favourite four-legged pet.

Until now, I could only do this at my mum’s house with our two tabby cats Miles and Lance. Well, rejoice – the Cat Café has opened in Manchester, allowing cat fanatics like me to spend as much time as they want with their 12 gorgeous kitties, on a strictly no commitment, no strings attached basis.

The café, located on High Street in the Northern Quarter, is the brainchild of sisters Ellie and Sarah Close, from Chorley. After visiting a similar café in Edinburgh in August 2015, Ellie was impressed by the concept and, along with Sarah, took a trip to Japan to learn more about cat cafes.

‘They noticed that the Japanese cat cafes were casual but quite strict at the same time,’ explained Cat Café manager, Emma Higgins, 25. They are hugely popular in Asia where the first opened in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998. In Japan, there are now at least 79, with at least 39 in Tokyo.

Cappuccinos with GeorginaCappuccinos with Georgina

‘There were fewer tourists but more business men and people having meetings, which they didn’t expect. People were there as a form of stress relief, so Ellie and Sarah wanted to mirror that here, for tourists as well as those who lead busy lives or aren’t allowed pets at home.’

The café works on the basis of a maximum of 20 people at a time, where visitors can pay in advance £12 per hour, or £1 for every five minutes.

Hot and cold beverages are unlimited, and you only pay for any food consumed during your time there.

‘Manchester is one of the UK’s biggest and busiest cities, so it made sense to open here as it serves so many purposes,’ continued Emma. ‘It’s funny as we’ve even had people visit who have cat allergies but really love them as animals, so they take an antihistamine before coming in!’

Harvey takes a napHarvey takes a nap

The café has also received feedback from a local mental health charity, which spoke postively about the reaction the cats had on some of their residents. Being around cats has proven to have multiple health benefits, as cats transcend stress and stroking them can be therapeutic – reducing blood pressure and heart rate. You can literally leave your problems at the door, as you have to secure personal items in the lockers before entering.

‘If we can help one person, then that’s great,’ said Emma, who has welcomed customers from as far away as Scotland. ‘Feedback on the whole from everyone has been excellent, visitors don’t want to leave. That’s really nice to hear, especially to see that smile on someone’s face.’

It’s not only the visitors to the café that are happy; the cats themselves are content in their new home.

As well as regular vet checks, customers must abide by a set of rules to allow the cats (which are either pedigree or a cross) to make their own decisions about what they want to do – and if they want to play with you, not the other way around.

You can’t wake a cat if it is sleeping and you also are not allowed to pick cats up or feed them any food that is not provided by café. However, I can 100% confirm that they do love the cat treats that are on sale behind the counter for £2.99!

‘The cats also have a separate room that they can go into whenever they want, where there are beds, toys, food and scratching posts – as well as a human bed and sofa,’ said Emma.

‘Any cat owners will relate when I say they you can buy as many comfy beds for your cat but they’ll always sit elsewhere.’

For those that want to take part in something a little different, the Cat Café also runs various events throughout the week, from cat yoga on a Monday, arts and crafts of a Wednesday and film Fridays (complete with blankets, popcorn and cat cuddles) to name a few. What more could you ask for? As Sigmund Freud once said: ‘Time spent with cats is never wasted.’

catcafe.co.uk

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