Cat Café opening in London

 It seems that the public has spoken on the subject of introducing a cat café to the London scenery and the consensus is very much a yes! We chat to Lauren Pears about launching Dinah’s Cat Emporium and the benefits of spending time with cats in your lunch hour

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In January we reported the exciting news of a potential cat café opening up in East London by cat lover, Lauren Pears. Her concept was simple, 20 cats from the Mayhew Animal Hospital, roaming a café where visitors could pay a cover charge of £5 to stay as long as they wanted and enjoy the company of feline friends. The only thing standing in the way of her vision and the cat café was £108,000 to get the project off the ground.

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Fast forward a month and PetsPyjamas catches up with Lauren to discover that she has reached her target, as well as being inundated with CVs from those who want to work at her unique urban retreat. “I thought there would be a niche group of really excited people; but the “niche” has proven to be much bigger than I ever expected,” exclaims Lauren.  “The response hasn’t just been local. I’ve had support from the US, Mainland Europe, Australia and all over the UK.”

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Set to be called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – after Alice’s cat in Alice in Wonderland – Lauren came up with the idea after visiting a cat café in Tokyo and wondering if the concept would take off in London. It seems the public answered that question pretty swiftly with their support and donations. Lauren believes it is down to her business idea satisfying a gap in city dwellers lives. “I think it fills a real need for a lot of people, especially in London where most people aren’t able to keep a pet. But it’s also a business model that has good intentions and I think most people see that. We love cats, so let’s give some a home; we love people, so let’s give them a nice place to rest.”

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“Plus, there are so many wild, crazy, exciting places in London, but we don’t have many quiet, restful spaces. Even our Museums are pretty lively. I know if I could pay a fiver and guarantee that I’d have a good coffee, a nice chair, Wi-Fi that works and that I can hear my friend talk, I’d pay just for that.”

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Lauren even has science backing up her plan for mixing people’s coffee breaks with stroking cats. “There’s so much research into Animal Assisted Therapy, there are real measurable health benefits for many people. It can, for the right people, alleviate depression, anxiety, loneliness. It even can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in children with prolonged animal contact.”

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So, with the human benefits taken care of what about the welfare of the cats? “The main thing is that the cats can come and go when they like, and they’ll be supervised by hosts. We also will manage capacity: There are a limited number of seats and we’ll not overcrowd,” explains Lauren. “The space will be designed to allow the cats to rest out of reach; we’ll have plenty of elevated ledges and shelves for them to rest on. Our guests pay to be around cats, behaving like cats, so we think they will be understanding if the cats are resting.  Ideally, I’d rather the cats mooch about out of reach, rather than leave the room, so I’ll be making sure that is possible.”

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Having worked in Videogames and Web Development for the past nine years and currently working for Sony Playstation as a Project Manager, Lauren now has plans to leave the digital world for that of something more real. “I’m looking forward to walking in of a morning, when it’s still quiet, making a coffee, feeding the cats and looking forward to the rest of the day. I’m looking forward to treating people well; it’s altogether too rare these days to get good customer service.”

Lauren is hoping to open sometime in May 2013

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Twitter: @LadyDinahsCats