I went to the Cat Cafe in Bournemouth and I didn’t really see any cats
Where they at tho?
If you hadn’t already heard, Pause Cat Cafe is the newest addition to Bournemouth Town Centre, a quaint little spot to relax on Old Christchurch Road. It’s said to be the perfect place to meet some cute cats. But when I went? It wasn’t quite the case.
On the outside, all you can see is a few tables and chairs, but no cats. I think that was where my skepticism started. I heard rumours that the cats didn’t actually exist. Was this even going to be worth the £5 entry? Is there food at least?
First, I was awkwardly sat on the outskirts of a small room, excluded from the cat play-area. My source of entertainment was watching someone wash up, and I could see the couple at the table I had actually booked playing joyfully with a cat. Staring enviously, I was tempted to go sit on their lap.
I was soon informed that we were all free to roam around the room.
I read the menu, a short, sweet list of vegan, vegetarian options about 10 times before I plucked up courage to go on a cat hunt.
It felt a bit like taking a grand tour of someone’s living room. After ten steps you were hovering over another guest’s table, watching them tickle one of the only cats that seemed genuinely interested in the random people that were staring at it. One of the others was asleep.
I saw two cats. Two.
Maybe it was because I came too late. Maybe it was just a bad day. Maybe I’m just unlucky.
It was disappointing to see that these animals weren’t so happy about interacting with humans, and the idea of forcing one to play with me for my own amusement seemed barbaric.
Also, I had to follow the cat cafe guidelines of not grabbing or picking up any of the cats for their own safety, which was understandable, but proved to be hard when they would run or hide from the customers.
I suppose that is the whole premise of the cat cafe, to offer up the opportunity to play and offer affection to animals. It does seem a bit odd that we, as humans, can force them to entertain us for our own enjoyment or relaxation.
Bournemouth's getting a cat cafe ? I want to cuddle rescue cats and drink hot chocolate ❤️❤️
— Kate Wells (@katewells27) November 11, 2016
However, the fact that Pause Cat Cafe supports rehoming and rescuing cats is wonderful. But the concept falls wherein most of the cats there felt nervous, scared or uninterested in being there, and therefore my experience lacked the magic and fun I had anticipated.
Pause Cat Cafe told The Tab: “Our cats are getting much more sociable every day, and as rescue cats we understand that they may progress at different rates. We are being patient and loving with them as are most of our patrons. There do seem to be a few people who are expecting more of a ‘show’ or a petting zoo type affair.
“Our cat cafe is set up with kindness at its core, which flows through everything we do. Primarily, kindness to our kitties comes first. We are set up as a rescue home for them and that is our priority above all else. For that reason, customers may need to be patient while we settle them in, as we won’t rush them – they can interact at their own pace.
“As we are only a week into opening, some of our seven rescue cats are still quite shy and do not spend all of their time out in the customer areas of the cafe. One of our main charitable aims is to promote good animal welfare, and for this reason, we allow our cats to spend as much time as they want in their private quarters and we do not force our cats out into the cafe to entertain people.”
It’s a good start, and definitely has potential. There’s no denying that the concept is lovely, the cats just need some time to adjust to their new cafe home.