Cats plus coffee – it’s a good way to do business! What is the cat cafe phenomenon?

Masgorzata Oberlan

The recent storm around Neko Cafe in Toruń didn’t hurt at all. He just opened his branch in the old town! The introduction of an age limit caused controversy: now only children from the age of 10 can access the cat cafe. The reason was the torment of the animals by some of the little ones and the irresponsibility of their parents.

Limit outraged those who kissed the doorknob and came to the place with polite – as they assure – children. However, from Gdańsk to Zielona Góra, such restrictions exist in cat cafes. Well, often stricter.

The idea of ​​”coffee with fur” came to Europe from Taiwan. In Poland, the first cat restaurant was in Krakow. Today – from Pomerania to the south of the country – there are many such establishments. After the pandemic, new ones will be added.

One of the secrets to this company’s success is its attachment to regular customers’ cats (not children in the first place). Big city singles who don’t have pets at home like to come back for coffee in the company of their favorite, “their” spiders. The fate of individual animals is also often presented on social media – including illnesses and deaths…

Toruń has potential! Second cat cafe in the city center

The first cat cafe was opened in 2019 in the Old Town of Toruń. To this day, this small, atmospheric place operates on Prosta Street. It is also home to Simba (Bengal Cat), Josse (Oriental Shorthair), Danusi (Head Horn), and Lilly (British Cat). Due to the change in the café regulations, the lives of these four have changed for the better from April 4. The youngest children are no longer allowed in the restaurant. Guests from 10 years old can enter here. The change caused a real storm on the internet, in real life.

Where does the age limit for guests come from? – Some kids just tormented our cats (I don’t hesitate to use that word). They made noise, chased them, pulled their tails, stuck with toys, “hunted” them with the fishing rods we have in the animal cafe, squeezed, lifted us, woke us from sleep – Aleksandra from Neko Cafe summed us up. And she noted that similar restrictions were also being introduced by cat shelters in the capital and other cities.

Were the parents unable to control their children? Unfortunately, some have failed to do so. Others, on the other hand, didn’t even try. They expected the cafe staff to intervene effectively. – Some parents regarded the cat cafe as a playground or petting zoo. They believed that the presence of animals was a great solution: the children would take care of them, and they would take care of the adults drinking coffee and talking – the restaurant employee reported.

The storm surrounding the new regulations has already raged through Toruń and the internet. It definitely didn’t hurt the Neko Cafe.
– Soon we will open a second place in the Old Town, on Chełmińska Street – announces Mrs. Karina, who runs this gastronomic and cat shop.

Let’s add that second place is much wider. Cats waiting for guests should feel comfortable. And the guests? After the introduction of the age limit, those who care about peace no longer hide their satisfaction. – Many left us before, saying bluntly: “We will come back, if there are no children with you.” These people were disturbed not only by the chaos, but also by the atmosphere of agreement with behavior that they do not accept – the staff of Neko Cafe does not hide.

It all started more than two decades ago in Taiwan…

Where did the idea for cat cafes come from? The whole story started in 1998 in Taiwan. The place called “Cat Flower Garden” was the first place in the world where you could drink coffee with cats. The cafe quickly became a local attraction frequented by tourists from all over the world.

Really, it didn’t take long for cat cafes to start popping up on other continents – in the US, Canada and Australia. The idea also caught on in Europe. Smaller and larger spiders have established themselves in cafes in Austria, France, Great Britain, Denmark and Hungary.

In 2015, the first such place was opened in Poland, in the center of Krakow. This Krakow cafe quickly became noisy and new ones opened in cities like: Warsaw, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Lublin, Olsztyn, Bydgoszcz, Zielona Góra or the aforementioned Toruń.

The years 2020-2022 were tough for the entire catering industry. The pandemic has wiped out many cafes from the urban landscape. Unlike pizzerias or restaurants, they couldn’t save themselves too much by taking away or “delivering” food. After all, most cat cafes have survived this difficult time and are now eagerly looking forward to the summer season. He will be the first real one who – everyone believes in it – will make up for the losses.

It’s a good business idea, but you need to know the rules. I really like cats!

Instrumental treatment of animals as mascots that attract customers in this industry really doesn’t work. – It’s just that people feel this attitude quickly. Hence, introducing, for example, age restrictions for guests, as well as other cat welfare rules, has been very well received by cat lovers. It is a pleasure to come to such a place – says Ms Honorata, recently born in Warsaw and involved in the defense of animal rights for many years.

Entrepreneurs who open and run cat cafes know that this is not an ordinary business. First of all, it is important that the property is located on a quiet street (too much noise deters the animals). Ideally, the cafe should have a room dedicated to cats only: with beds, litter boxes, bowls for water and food, scratching posts and other accessories. Therefore, only animals have access to the publicly available space. Experts in this field also emphasize that the entrance to the cafe should be separated from the street by a vestibule, so that the cat cannot leave the premises.

The second is meeting the requirements of the Ministry of Health and Safety and taking into account more frequent checks than other cafes. Where the potential risk of transmission of diseases and parasites is much greater than in ordinary buildings, very strict and frequent inspections can be expected.

Another challenge is the promotion of the property and the loyalty of regular customers to it. Social media has become indispensable here. The cafe’s Facebook profiles or Instagram accounts not only advertise coffee or pastries, but also present entire stories from the lives of cats in episodes. It happens that until the end – this was the case with the illness and death of a female cat from a certain cat cafe in the west of the country. Dozens of internet users followed her battle with the disease. We have no doubt that we sincerely wish the animal a speedy recovery. ‘By the way’, but thanks to strong emotions, it also fits in with the building even more.

Who is coffee with a cat for? For singles, but also for enthusiasts. For families, but also loners with a book

Many studies show that just watching movies about cats calms you down. How about being in his company!

Cat cafes therefore promote themselves as “slow” places – places where time passes more slowly. They can be a good idea for a date as well as a weekend away with the family. They can attract singles from the big city, who are busy every day, but who would like to stop and visit “their cat” at a cafe. Or they can just be used to relax friends; especially when board games, books, weeklies are still available in the restaurant – this is a common solution.

In this context, the recent age restrictions that have been introduced at the small Neko Cafe in Toruń should probably no longer surprise anyone. Just like choosing a much bigger place for the second branch of this cat cafe in the city of Copernicus. – Really, there are so many other places you can go with younger children that the age limit has to be understood in our country – ends Mrs. Aleksandra from the restaurant in Toruń.

USEFUL TO KNOW. The presence of a cat, serotonin and our health. His spinning is already doing wonders!

The research from Indiana University Bloomington shows just how far the cat’s influence on human health and well-being is. They have shown that even watching cat videos on the Internet evokes positive emotions in people and increases their energy levels. Cats trigger serotonin in our body, or the happiness hormone. These animals can help fight depression and separation anxiety. Their company makes us feel calm, relaxed and happy.

Cats’ purring cures, scientists say low frequency of this sound (25-150 Hz).Vibrations in this range strengthen muscles, bones and joints, relieve pain, reduce swelling; eliminate shortness of breath, accelerate wound healing. But not alone! They can also have a beneficial effect on our psyche.

Regular low-frequency vibrations also reduce stress and blood pressure, so cat purring has a positive impact on the prevention of cardiovascular disease. This is confirmed by a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology. Scientists noticed that cat owners are much less likely to die from heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. (to: Fitmin.pl).

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