Cuddles – Closed

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I’ve heard about cat cafes in Japan. I always thought they might be interesting to visit. Then, while in Singapore, I was surprised to stumble upon one at the Scape Centre. It was located in a trendy shopping mall geared toward skateboarders, martial arts afficianados, tattoo-seekers, and young Asian teens looking for cheap, youthful clothing.

And then there were the cats.

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There was a sign posted outside. Cuddles Cat Cafe was actually looking for more cuddlers. They needed volunteers to commit to a couple of months and they could make $6 or $7/hour based on how many hours a week they spent there. (Which doesn’t seem like volunteering. And didn’t match with how I’d thought about cat cafes. I thought the whole idea was that patrons would come in, have a cup of tea and play and cuddle with the cats. I had no idea it could be a paying job.)

I’m writing this in past tense because when I just did an internet search to find out a few more details, I was alarmed instead to find notice that the cat café has been closed. Apparently in the two weeks since I passed by the cat café, several cats have died.

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The owner has apologized on facebook, citing feline disease, ringworm, and digestive tract problems, but the public is outraged. Most feel that the whole idea of cat cafes in general is detrimental to  cats’ health. Certainly precautions could be taken to reduce exposure to dirt and germs, but I find the whole idea curious. I didn’t go into Cuddles while I was in Singapore because I felt that I needed to be in a more relaxed state of mind, ready to sit down with a cup of tea and the desire to relax and pet cats, which I think of as a soothing and somewhat time-consuming activity. But I was in too much of a hurry that night and didn’t want to sit down and stop to pet the kitties. I like the idea of a cat café, but didn’t realize how potentially harmful it might be to cats since I assumed only cat lovers would go inside. Now I don’t know what to think.

What’s your opinion?



11 responses to “Cuddles – Closed

  1. I like cats but this is a bit mad. OK if the odd stray or two take up residence, or if it’s the owner’s cat. But advertising it as an attraction and PAYING people to look after them? Surprised the health & safety people allow it.

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Roy. First, I did picture cat cafés as a sort of exaggerated owner’s-cat-adding-a-bit-of-personality-to-a-shop sort of experience. It actually looked more like a cat-friendly pet shop. The Health & Safety council surely has rules in place. Or do they?

  3. How sad to hear that so many have died. I’ve heard of a cat cafe in Paris and another in NYC so they seem to be getting more popular but if they are unsafe for the cats then it’s best that this trend stop. Maybe just one or two cats in a normal cafe to shed (pun intended?) light on the need for adoption.

    • I can only hope this was an isolated incident. I’d like to experience a cat cafe. Maybe in Japan where they seem to be very popular. I think the intent is to provide a therapeutic, interactive place for cats and cat lovers to spend time together. But shedding light on adoption would be a good goal, too. 🙂

  4. I always thought of them as places for pet lovers to enjoy playing with the animals and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee while they were there but with this kind of news, I definitely didn’t consider that it could also be a potentially harmful place/environment for the pets to be in. Apparently, the trend started in Asia and has since moved to the rest of the world. It sounds fun, though I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be sitting at a table with cats walking around everywhere.

  5. Well, I love the idea, but if it’s unsafe for the cats…goodness, no!

    The Humane Society had a Snuggle Express thing they did during the holidays. They stop by offices with two kitties and two puppies for about a half hour, so we can cuddle with the animals. (They’re up for adoption, of course.) When they came by our office, it was the best thing ever. Everyone had those goofy smiles on their faces. It was tough to get back to work after that though. 🙂

  6. HI Juliann,
    I was so surprised to read your post about Cat Cafes. I’d never heard of them until we went to Lithuania last summer. The cats tree were all relaxed and happy. I was surprised and saddened to read about the place in Japan. In case you are interested in another perspective, here is a column my son Eli wrote for The Edmonds News about cat cafes.
    Best wishes for the New Year!

  7. Hmm, we have a lot of cat, dog cafes, and even a sheep cafe here in Seoul, and they are all very clean, with, like you mentioned, people going in, having a cup of tea or a coffee and hanging out with the animals. I haven’t heard about any trouble here, so maybe it just had to do with that particular owner or cafe?

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