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Save some, eat some

As you probably know, there is a venue called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. It is a cafe in east London that is also a home for rescue cats.

Even though the cafe serves some vegan options, I am yet to visit. I think I have a problem with the concept. It doesn’t sit well with me that animals are on display.

The cats in the Emporium are comfortable and wanting for nothing, according to the website. They have enormous amounts of space and are free to leave the public area when they choose. All food and welfare concerns are dealt with and there are guidelines in place for how cafe diners interact with the cats.

But I still don’t like it.

I don’t like the concept of any animal being on display, no matter how loved. As I walked past the front of the cafe recently, it struck me how much it looked like a pet store. People can stand at the window and stare at cats inside.

I don’t think I would ever go on a safari to look at animals. I would never go to a zoo, even if the establishment had a pristine record of animal conservation. I hate hobby farms and baby farm animal exhibits at fairs.

Loved and cared for animals on show are still animals on show for human enjoyment. I believe this is a practise that needs to be questioned, challenged and changed.

If it is cat interaction you are after, you can always visit one of the countless animal rescue shelters around the country where the animals are desperate for companionship, playmates and the odd spot of grooming.

As far as I can tell from their website, Dinah’s is a commercial enterprise designed to make profit. I am opposed to people making profit from displaying animals.

To add further unease to the situation, the patrons of the cat cafe have the choice of dining on animal-derived foods during their visit. Don’t hurt cats but by all means eat feta or milk. Or why not even indulge in a salmon salad?

Just don’t hurt the cats.

How do you all feel about this sort of cafe?

cat cafe


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Written by fatgayvegan

  1. As a vegan and lifelong cat-lover, I’m also not entirely comfortable with this concept and never have been. I know that the cats probably are better cared for than in many homes, but I think it promotes the wrong idea of interaction between humans and non-human animals. Many people adore human babies, playing with them and caring for them, but it would be ethically preposterous to have a baby café where you could go and play with random babies and then leave when you get bored, so why would we do that with cats? I find the whole thing very strange and I’m glad you’ve voiced this.

    • The need to place cats in good homes is so great that I would go along with any plan that is safe and considerate to the cats. I understand what you are saying… I hate the practice of using animals in entertainment, but I don’t see this in that way. I only hope that proper screening of prospective adopters is being done,

      • The cats are not for adoption. They were rescued but the plan is for them to be permanently at the cafe.

  2. I have similar feelings… I love animals and want to be able to pet them but feel like there are levels of exploitation to any petting zoo/farm/establishment. It’s all for human gain and doesn’t really give respect to the lives that are used as marketing tools to entice customers…
    The fact that cats are revered and other animals are food sources is bizarre. Pure speciesism. It creeps me out.
    Glad someone has articulated this, as I felt I was the only one after I have tried and failed to explain this to others!

  3. My boyfriend just added: it’s like prostitution.

    • The Cats are well taken care of. they are not feral and get killed by cars and perverse creeps (human) and devoured by other animals,or killed at shelters, as happens to millions of cats.They were abandoned by non caring creatures (humans), multiplied and now someone had a good idea, so they profit, the cats do require care. How can anyone begrudge them the security and comfort they have. All of you should speak out to cat owners who let their cats roam outside, fertile females and tomcats to add to the ones to be killed. You all sound so selfish and are worried about how it offends your vegan believes that people enjoy the company of cats and a meal or beverage.
      Sarah Rose, I am sorry to say this, your boyfriend creeps me out with his statement. it is insulting to the owner of the cat emporium. prostitution is sex for money or other form of payment.
      Be happy for the cats, they seem to be and the humans who like to enjoy their company.
      Put your energy into preventing canned hunts of exotic animals in the US, the plight of elephants in asia and africa, puppy and kitty mills, the misery of the almost extinct asian tiger, raised in small cages and harvested for their body parts as food and medicine. There is so much abuse and so many animals need your help.
      the cats in the cat emporium are doing well, do not worry about them.

      • Hi Nickie, just want to say, I really agree with you on all counts, especially the last paragraph. So many causes in desperate need of our help right now. If any evidence that the cats are being mistreated at these cafes comes to light, then that’s a different story. If I lived near one of these cafes, I would visit and check out the conditions for myself. Based on what I’ve seen online, the cats definitely appear happy, but of course the best way to tell for sure is in person.

      • Finally, a voice of reason.

        Also, not “go to a zoo”? Why not? Zoos are not for profit, necessarily, they are for education. The same could be said for “hobby farms”, etc. If people don’t understand the animal population that they live next to, how will they respect it? If you have no contact, why would you want to protect it? Your statements just don’t ring true about how you like / love animals and yet want nothing to do with them. It seems as those these cats are treated with respect and love – they are not made to interact, just be.

      • Nickie, it’s funny how you list all of the huge cruelties being committed against animals at the minute but fail to mention the meat/dairy industries. I mention this because it exemplifies the intended point of this article entirely; people think that this cafe is fantastic for rescuing animals and in turn believe themselves to be great people by going and supporting this cafe when in the next breath have no second thought for the tortured and murdered animals on their plate. Speciesism and cognotive dissonance at it’s finest.

    • “Zoos are not for profit”??! Sorry, but I haven’t even been able to read down further than magill’s comment yet. Of course zoos are for profit. How much money do you think cute baby polar bears bring in on an average day? These animals are bread PURELY for profit.

  4. Not crazy about this idea. I love cats, but they are not items, they are individual creatures that deserve to be respected and loved, not idolized or gawped at. Where do they go at night? Are they left alone in the cafe?
    The whole food dichotomy is also very disturbing.
    If you love cats, own, care and love one or more yourself; don’t go seeking them on display. It’s just a small-scale zoo then, isn’t it?

    • No, benevolent, it is not a “small scale zoo”. It is merely a place where cats are saved, safe and, held (if they want to be) and loved by people who DO love cats. As to “where they go at night”, I’m sure it is a much better place than if they were alone and digging in garbage cans to survive. “Are they left alone in the café”? Why would that be an issue as long as they are well fed, warm and loved….by many!
      In any event, It certainly doesn’t compare with being left alone in a cage at a shelter with NO companionship and the likelihood of euthanasia in the morning.

  5. So the author doesn’t like this idea? Has the author thought of the alternatives for these cats, if they weren’t being cared for at the cafe? The UK, as most everywhere, has a large homeless cat population and, according to a study done, 13,000 cats were euthanized in the Uk in 2010. (http://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2012/10/homeless-pets-uk-survey.html) There are too many unwanted cats!

    Apparently, this cafe is immensely popular. Perhaps some kitties will find loving homes as a result of this very original idea. Other cities in the world are considering opening similar pet cafes.

  6. I eat at a sushi restaurant that has a large aquarium with fish on display in the dining room, as well as a pair of Koi ponds in their outdoor dining area. I have spent many an hour dining on FISH/sushi while watching these fish. What is the difference between the Emporium and my favorite sushi place? The Emporium is not serving CAT, is it? My sushi place is not serving fish from their aquariums either. If a significant portion of the proceeds from food purchased at the Emporium is going to help the cat rescue charities, what is the problem?

    • Well as vegans we obviously wouldn’t visit your favourite sushi place either, so not sure what your point is there.

    • This post is horrifying on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. As long as it’s not serving cat, that’s not an issue for you? Are you actually serious? And I assume you don’t ever, ever eat beef, pork or chicken near a farm if that’s your argument.

      • Just saying, but the animals you revere eat each other all the time…get them to go vegan and I might as well…

    • I agree with you totally!!!

      • Revere is a bit strong, I think perhaps respect might be a bit more accurate.
        My cats are all vegan, as are cows, sheep etc so I guess you’ll be joining us soon? 😉

  7. I think you need to realize, FGV, that the “problem” exists in your mind; I doubt very seriously the cats would have serious issues with the situation. And that’s the “problem” I have with so many V’s, whether or not they be F and/or G: They think the whole world needs to dance to their particular point of view.

  8. Human are designed/evolved as omnivores. Chimpanzees enjoy eggs, insects and an occasional small birdchick. If you don’t like something, it does not make it bad automatically. Shark eats salmon, and so do I. The destiny of salmon is to be eaten by either shark, dolphin, or me. And your (and mine, too, of course) destiny is to be eaten by worms someday. Or by plants, if cremated.

    By the way, millions of birds and small animals die each year when machines collect grain off the fields. So your piece of bread is washed in their blood anyway.

    • Far more grain is milled for farm animal feed than for human consumption, so if you’re concerned about the welfare of small insects (which I suspect you aren’t) then veganism is still the best way to minimise their suffering.

    • The destiny of a salmon is to be eaten? Bread washed in blood… I think you’re confusing Catholicism with veganism.

    • I love this comment! Just the right mix of logic and humor!

      • Thank you! But I should apologise for not taking the original poster seriously…
        If you’re going to use chimps as an example of omnivorous diet why not talk about how they hunt and rip apart red colobus monkeys? Seems more relevant to your point, although chimps shovelling down baby monkey meat and Sean deciding not to visit a cat cafe seem to be rather tenuously linked unless you know something about their suppliers I don’t.

  9. I think it is great. Cats are there for our amusement. I can’t take them home with me- my landlord would throw me out if I tried. This way I get food, and an afternoon of cat love and can leave without feeling as if I am abandoning them, which is how shelters treat you if you go there to visit and don’t adopt one. This is common in Japan and I’m glad they brought the idea to the UK.

    • Do you believe all animals are there for our amusement?

  10. As a huge animal lover (cats especially), I’m actually really in favor of these, so long as there is strict oversight in how the animals are treated and someone is watching to make sure no one leaves with a cat (I remember recently at a hotel where the cat was a mascot, someone just picked the cat up and walked out the door). I know it’s not perfect, BUT just from working in animal shelters and seeing how desperate these poor creatures are to get out of their cage and to have space and human interaction (on their terms – they are cats after all), I would much prefer to see some of them in a cafe like this than in their little cage. However, only some cats would enjoy this environment. I would never want a cat that is terrified of crowds or very timid (or one that’s trying to bolt out of the door every time it’s opened, like my cat was as a kitten – well, unless they have a double-door situation) to be forced here. But if the cat thrives in the environment and is happier there than in the shelter cage, then I’m all for it. Especially if it means they’re safe from euthanasia if not adopted quickly enough. I also imagine that this could really help some cats get adopted. Not only because the cat will be getting socialization with a variety of individuals which very often helps them feel more comfortable/less timid around new people – which makes a “good impression” when someone comes in just once and gauges behavior by that interaction – but also because of course, if a cat comes and sits on your lap for an hour while you sip tea and pet her, you’re going to be able to make an attachment with the animal more deeply than a couple minutes in a “visit room” with shelter staff and a cat that’s just adjusting to being placed in a space larger than 3 by 2 ft.

  11. Personally I see nothing wrong with cat cafes. I think it’s a nice way of taking in these cats and giving them a home where they can be safe.

    I can understand why you might dislike this but trust me, this is much better than the fate of the cats who are euthanized and end up on the table of an anatomy class for some high schooler or college student to dissect.

  12. Oh, man. I am soooo done with vegetarians! I have a few friends who are “vegetarians”. When I had them over for a meal I always made vegetarian fare. But when they had me over they also served me vegetarian fare. So it turned out that whenever we ate together, everybody had to eat vegetarian. I respected their preferences but they ignored mine. That’s just rude and egocentric.
    We’re still friends but I never accept an invitation to join them for meals.

    As for the cats…..I have had cats for most of my adult life. But there were times when I was unable to keep an animal in my own home. Or I was out of town and I missed my cats. Why would anyone deprive me of the company of somebody else’s well cared for cat during those times?

    Oh wait. I forgot. I’m talking about a vegetarian. Whenever there’s a vegetarian present we must all defer to his or her wishes.

    • Vegetarianism/veganism isn’t a “preference” based on tastes like meat-eating is, it’s a complete abstinence from purchasing meat, leather etc and supporting industries that exploit animals. This means as vegetarians your friends could not buy and cook meat for you. And eating veg food isn’t strongly going against your beliefs, like cooking meat would be for them. What a selfish thing for you to expect.

      • I’m thinking his “vegetarian” friends will not that bothered by his rejection of their invitations!

      • In that case then all vegetarians should avoid the homes of meat eaters since you are probably sitting on chairs with leather or at the very least are hanging with those who “support exploiting animals”. It is about taste, and if I do not eat meat I will die, my doctor says absolutely no vegan for me, nowhere near enough protein for my medical condition.

    • Steve,

      I get your point. However, as a veggie person, I would certainly feed you vegggie fare at my home, because I never buy or eat meat.

      And if I ate at your place, I would never expect you to make “special” meatless food for me. I would eat salad or whatever else, anything without meat, that you served.

      Respect goes both ways.

      From my experience, the meat eaters are the judgmental ones. I never tell someone that their food choices are “wrong”. If they ask me (I have been vegetarian since 1985) I will gladly discuss the health benefits as well as animal and environmental concerns with meat consumption.

      So, there are always two sides to every story. And possibly, you may know some veggie people who are rude. But there are plenty of rude meat eaters as well. We need to take people’s attitudes on a case by case basis and not over generalize!

  13. “How do I feel about this café”. I feel that is wonderful! There are so many feral cats out there that are starving…..both from lack of food as well as lack of attention…..that this sounds like a wonderful solution to provide them with both. I have had many cats in my 70+ years and each and every one of them thrived on attention and I would imagine that every single person that would come to eat there would be more than willing to give them that attention. So, where is the downside? Fat, well fed, purring cat or skinny flea covered homeless cat? My heart says to go for the first option.

  14. so many cats have nothing. they become socialized and used to being around people . Obviously only cat lovers would go there I would love it I think it is fine as long as they are treated well. if this lady makes some money how is that hurting the cats. Don’t they need food and medical care? May be that helps pay for it. Sounds like a nice place

  15. So now even rescuing cats is somehow exploiting them? Would they be better off in shelters, or living in abandoned buildings, eating out of trash cans and breeding more feral babies? Yes, people like to look at cats, and some cats like to look at people, and interact with them. Giving the cats a safe place to live, proper care and a chance at a normal life offends some people. I’m sorry. If the cats aren’t being constrained and forced to socialize, I really don’t see the problem.

  16. If there were a cafe in the local area (suburban L.A.), I would definitely visit. Does anyone know if there exists such a thing in the U.S.?

    • A “cat cafe”, of course. That’s what I meant.

      • I highly doubt it, with the way our gov’t freaks out about food sites. You probably couldn’t get a permit to open such a business, because they’d worry about cat hair in the food… or some idiot that went in would sue because there WAS a cat hair in their food.

  17. I live in a country where a lot of shop owners have cats. It is not uncommon to go into a jewelry store, book store, ect and find one or two felines laying around. I find this charming and homey.

  18. The idea behind my post was to ask people to question how humans often only want to help certain animals when we get some personal gain or enjoyment in return. I do think the cats of the cafe are well looked after, that is not what I have expressed. I also am deeply conflicted that one species is celebrated and saved whilst others are served to be eaten in the same venue.

    • what do you think cats eat? meat- that’s what! so should the cats be vegetarians also?

    • I don’t think that only applies to animals. I think it is human (or any animal) nature to only do something “altruistic” if we get some kind of reward for it, however small. People feel good about themselves by helping others and that is a reward. If people didn’t like animals and want to be around them, they wouldn’t care about them, surely?

  19. Look, you may be a fat gay vegan, but ranting and raving about no pet shows, no baby animal displays at fairs, and especially no safari tour trips are too much and obviously shows that you are one uneducated person.
    How are people going to expand their minds and not their belt size to grow (SMARTER) rather than larger. If you take the educational venues away then you are ignorant to the status and problems of the very animals you claim to love so dearly.
    I think you are missing the mark about the profit thing from the store, the cats need food, grooming, medical care, etc. And that’s not cheapo.
    I know you are going to call me names and that I do not know what I am talking about, But to inform you that we adopt retired racing greyhounds. we have had four of them in that past twenty years, as well as have taken in kittens, NOT a HORD of them but a couple at a time. I am an experienced long term bird breeder that knows how not to make a bird mill. And in doing that we are saving the wild ones from poaching.
    My brother raises angel fish for a couple pet stores to try and save the wild ones from extinction.
    I know for a fact by fostering a few greyhounds for an adoption agency that their are many emergency and hidden expenses that could be added to the adoption fee but are not, Like the grey I fostered that had medical bills totaling over $2,300.00 dollars and she was still adopted out at the standard $300.00 fee. this is not a single case either. NO matter how much is spent to care for the dogs, they all have the same adoption fee, except for the elderly and special needs dog that has a $200.00 fee.
    In closing my recommendation to you is shut your mouth (YOU might lose some weight as a side benefit, open your eyes, you may learn something.
    And yes I through line about weight around because I used to weigh 357 pounds and now weigh 211 pounds with out any fad diet food, stomach staples, drugs etc. I worked out three times a week, watched my food intake, walked before every meal, had 4 small meals a day.
    So next time you want to get some attention by wanting to shut down zoos, tourism, ecology programs to teach, pet shows to help adopt, JUST DON’T.

    • Anecdotal evidence does not a sound argument make…
      You appear to conflating body mass and intelligence, which is a bit worrying.
      Does being deemed to be overweight by Western biomedical standards invalidate one’s opinion, or deny their right to one? Sounds a bit fascist to me…

  20. Wow, this place seems to be doing something good for these animals and people like you just have to find some reason to complain. Why make an issue of it if there is really no harm being done to these cats? Do they look traumatized or scared or do they look like they feel right at home? If its the latter, I don’t see why you should concern yourself any further.

    And I just hate how you phrased “I think I have a problem with the concept”. You either do or you don’t. How about waiting until you are sure you have a problem with it before you start complaining about it!

    By the way, cat cafe’s are popping up all over Japan. See the examples below. I especially love the 2nd place they visited as the cats there are up for adoption.


  21. Depends what kind of vegan you are really. If you’re vegan because you refuse any kind of exploitation of animals then it doesn’t sit well to go here and I’m in that camp. But if you’re vegan for other reasons I can see that you wouldn’t have a problem with it. And if you’re not vegan at all, of course you’re ok with it.
    And let’s not get personal with the insults eh?

  22. I’m kind of stunned as to why so many meat eaters are reading this blog and feeling the need to leave negative and even aggressive comments, when they are so obviously uninterested in veganism. I mean, I (as a vegan) would not read a meat centric blog and then let rip in the comments section, that would be stupid. And I have better things to do. If these people want to learn or be inspired, fair enough – but that is clearly not their agenda.

    • Well, I got here through a news site, and was curious. I like to listen to, or read, different viewpoints.

      • Hi Fyre. Are you able to tell me which news site it was? Cheers.

  23. Why not? For people with limited resources. Profit goes to feed and shelter these cats who’d otherwise be strays.

  24. Cat cafes could even lead to more adoption.

  25. I’m going to visit before I make up my mind, but to focus on one aspect of it I think the “save some, eat some” title is spot on because this place is just analogous to our treatment of animals generally.
    It’s weird enough that we do it at all, but the fact that it’s culturally constructed makes it even stranger.
    In the UK we have cat cafes serving fish, in other countries you’re more likely to find fish cafes serving cat…

  26. Oh, and just quickly, all of you arguing about the alternative being death/abandonment, that’s a bit of a strawman really. I think FGV is probably suggesting that they’d be better off in homes, not better off on the streets or euthanised.
    Engaging in logical fallacy isn’t going to change anyone’s mind and you look a bit reactionary.

    • I think that there is little doubt that the cats would be better off in homes. However, for many abandoned cats (and dogs) the streets, shelters or euthanasia are the options left for them. I’m a cat lover and I’m confronted every day with dozens (not 1 or 2) of cats (and dogs) that will be put down within 24/48 hours if not adopted. It breaks my heart, but I can’t adopt all the abandoned fur babies of the world. I would much rather see that they find some love and contentment in a place like this where they might also find potential adopters. And who knows – if they combine this with a bit of education by encouraging neutering/spaying some of the morons in the world that let their pets run wild, breeding every couple of months, will get the hint. Just my 2cents worth.

  27. Some of these comments. Comparing a cafe that serves as a safe house or sanctuary for abandoned animals to prostitution is laughable. The animals who xxx o many of you ranting about being on display, aren’t creatures who actively seek out solitude, live in fear of human interaction, nor are adversely effected by that interaction like a slow loris. Some of your points of view are so ridiculous, it makes me very curious about how on earth you’ve survived this long.

    • Sorry. Auto correct
      “The animals so many of you”

  28. Hahaha. I love satire.

  29. I find it hard to believe that cats feel abused because people can look at them. Honestly, this looks like a projection of a human set of values on a completely different creature. As long as they are free to come and go, well fed and cared for, it sounds like a good deal for a cat. You can easily tell when a cat is not happy. Why not go and have a look?
    Haven’t been there myself, but I get the impression It’s not like those horrid pet centres where kids stroke and cuddle an innocent captive farm animal.

  30. Seriously? #firstworldproblems

  31. I’ve been to the café. I would never go again. Despite being instructed on numerous occasions by staff to not disturb or touch cats that were sleeping or resting, people would repeatedly try to stroke them or engage them in play, because they were simply not able to watch a cat without wanting to touch it. Perhaps their justification was that they had to get their ‘money’s worth’. There is more I could say but I will refrain from doing so on this particular occasion. What I found was a blatant disregard for the rules of the establishment, and crucially, a real lack of restraint on the part of the majority of visitors, as seen by their total lack of respect for the needs of the cats, in this instance, tired ones. Wow, the utter selfishness of some human beings. As soon as the staff turned their backs, visitors were trying to bother resting cats by shaking cat toys in their face. Observing this was an uncomfortable experience for me, and as mentioned, I will not even consider returning there. Lastly, I recall that the only vegan item on the menu at the time of my visit was a sausage roll.

    • That would irritate the hell out of me but a house with children & cats wouldn’t be much different, (Some) kids would be stroking & trying to play with their pet(s) even when told to let them sleep.

    • Thank you for posting this, I have never been to one of these cafes so I got to see the experience through your eyes. It would bother me also to see folks not respecting the rules of the establishment and bugging the cats. Of course, knowing Americans what will happen is some cat will get good and tired of being bugged that it will react and hiss and scratch. At that point the cat will be carted away, news organizations will be contacted and a lawsuit will be filed by the poor person that got attached by the “mad crazy” cat.

  32. I like pets better than people..for obvious reasons..they love you unconditionally..

    • Amen to that, Nancy!!

  33. I think we need to quit over thinking things. If you were a homeless cat on the streets, hungry, not being cared for -would it really bother you to be “on display”? Especially if you are getting good healthcare, nutritious meals, and had a safe place to live? A lot of people do not especially enjoy getting up and going to work 40+ hours a week, dealing with disgruntled clients/customers/patients, but we do it for the benefits it gives us – working allows us to buy food, provides us with safe housing and good healthcare. This establishment is trying to help cats. I see that as a good thing.

    • Just out of interest, do you think the “freaks” from sideshows (like Joseph Merrick) should have been grateful just for somewhere to live, too?
      And I think your second point comes down to choice, I don’t think the cats here are working because they’ve considered the alternatives and rejected them.
      I’m not trying to be deliberately provocative, I am just very interested in how people are framing their responses here 🙂

  34. Oh My Gosh, the vegans on this site are so self-righteous. I truly feel bad for you to be going through life offended by most everything in the world. Has to be a bad way to live, feeling bitter and self-righteous all the time. I feel sorry for the vegans, I really do. As for the cats, I am happy they have a good home with lots of people to leer at them, objectify them and keep them captive for their own entertainment and enjoyment. Jeesh!

  35. I really don’t see a problem with this. I would think that this restaurant probably has a vermin free kitchen. How many restaurants can say this. Even if the cats are never allowed into the kitchen the mice will play at night and so will the cats. If you don’t like cats around when you eat then simply don’t frequent this restaurant. I doubt that this would hurt them financially as there are so many cat lovers among us. Cats are by nature very clean creatures. A cat sitting in my lap will only enhance my meal. If you don’t share my feelings but decide to eat there simply don’t pet or pick up a cat. I believe that for most of us kitties in a restaurant isn’t cause for issue. Cats are usually quite happy where they get plenty of petting. They have a warm home, have plenty of food get to socialize with each other and more importantly to most cats, with humans.

    • The issue wasn’t the hygiene of eating around cats, it was the hypocrisy of celebrating/gawping at one species of animal whilst eating the milk and flesh of another. Also that people do stupid things like wake the poor cats up when they’re trying to sleep 🙁

  36. I used to live by a bookstore that was home to two kitties.

    Is that so wrong?

  37. I say you people need to get lives!!!

  38. I would suggest everyone who hasn’t already done so click on the link to the Emporium then read the animal welfare section which explains how well looked after the cats are. As for the dishes served there, not all animal shelter workers are vegan or vegetarian so what’s the difference? Doesn’t mean they don’t love animals.

    • I am a vegan too (ethical & health), so not one of the pro-pet, anti-vegan person you’re saying about FGV.

      • Sorry that should be people not person.

    • I have no doubt that the animals are physically treated well by the cafe owner. That is not the concern of my article and I do not question their physical wellbeing. There is a connectedness between using cute animals such as cats and the invisibility of animals used for mass farming. People feel OK about eating/using animals that have been treated horribly (but out of sight) when they pour all of their energy into looking after domestic and companion animals. This example of cognitive dissonance lets them continue to be consumers of animal products and not feel guilty or challenged. Vets do the same. Many animal rescue workers do the same. People work tirelessly to save cats and dogs but go home and eat eggs sourced from battery hens kept in atrocious conditions. Someone might sign an online petition to stop animal testing but then buy shampoo that was tested on rabbits. This article was written to ask people to consider how they might be suspending their knowledge of some forms of animal exploitation while celebrating a concept such as a cat cafe. I think the pretence of celebrating human and cat relationships in the emporium allows society to perpetuate the myth that most of us are decent people who would do anything to stop animal cruelty when in reality most humans do nothing of the sort.

  39. I don’t know where all these pro-pet, anti-vegan people are coming from but welcome to my blog!
    You will probably also enjoy voicing your opinion over on a post where I asked if cats can be vegan.

    • God I hope people aren’t trying to make cats vegan. That is a horrible idea because cats aren’t supposed to be vegan. They need meat, that is how they evolved to survive.

      • We evolved eating meat too, but nothing and no one needs it. We need a combination of macro and micro nutrients in the correct ratio.

      • Cats, of course, were designed by nature to be exclusively carnivorous. They have adapted, to some extent to grain-based dry cat food, but they have an absolute requirement for the nutrients taurine and arachadonic acid that are found naturally only in animal products. Cats also need arginine, tryptophan, lysine and vitamin A, again which is naturally found in meat. Yes, they can be fed synthetic variations of these things, but natural sources of taurine and arachadonic acid contain many other amino acids, enzymes, co-factors, and other complex nutrients that may also be important for the cat’s overall health. Also, vegan/vegetarian diets are the primary cause of feline diabetes and a taurine deficiencies not only can but often do cause heart disease.

      • Always interested to discuss this subject, can you give me some links to peer reviewed stuff on the heart disease and other conditions being caused by a vegan diet please?

  40. I agree with everything in this post and find the whole idea of a “cat cafe” exploitative and kind of creepy. It’s difficult because I love cute animals as much as the next person, but (and I know I will piss off some vegans with this) pet ownership in general makes me uneasy. I don’t have an alternative to the overpopulation crisis, and I applaud people who rescue animals from bad circumstances, but any situation in which you have to remove an animal’s genitalia and force it to live somewhere seems a bit fucked up. On top of that, if your pet isn’t vegan, you’re putting its life ahead of hundreds used to make its food each year. Sounds speciesist to me. Rant over!

    • “Removing an animal’s genitalia” is one alternative to the pet overpopulation problem. Assigning human thoughts to non-humans is not helpful.

      I agree with you that pet breeding and ownership is exploitative. But providing a home for an abandoned animal is no more fucked up than adopting a child and “forcing” them to live with you.

  41. Let me think. Cats need a place to stay and are not in a cage. They (being cats) can intermingle with people or choose not to. They are fed, they are clean and they are healthy and happy. On the other hand, people who love cats (and other animals) that are living in a rented flat cannot have one because of the rental agreement. They can go to this café for their “cat love fix” and support the establishment by eating there. Sounds like it is a good deal for the cats who are lucky enough to be there and the people who love to go there to be with the cats even for a short time.
    Someone else mentioned putting your anger into the areas where wild animals as well as domesticated ones are mistreated or killed for pleasure. THAT is where you, my dear blogger should spend your writing time. Bring peace to this world not more anger.

    • Are you saying that I am projecting anger? Huh? This comment thread has gone all sorts of weird places. I’m not angry at anyone.

      • Um also by criticising the meat/dairy industries, the killing of wild and domestic animals for pleasure is exactly where FGV is directing his anger… (So many of these people haven’t read the post it’s laughable)

  42. If a cat is sheltered and being treated well, I am okay with a cat cafe. It sounds to me like it is bringing attention to the fact that there are many homeless cats in the UK.

    I am an animal advocate in every sense of the word. I think some on here are taking this issue to an extreme by stating the cafe exploits cats. I actually think it is doing the opposite . And what is wrong with the cafe owner making some money? She isn’t abusing the cats is she? If she harms them in any way, she should be arrested. But I haven’t heard that and applaud owner of cafe for the efforts to help cats.

    • And how do you feel about people eating one animal but caring for another, Susan?

  43. I am not sure what the situation is in that restaurant’s area, but I can tell you for sure what they are where I live: I live in northwest Florida, USA. I live in a county of 150,000 people. In 2012, the last year our local government kill shelter gave us data, our shelter euthanized somewhere over 8,000 animals. The data they accumulated was inaccurate & skewed downward, by their own admission (it was the way certain data was entered into their computer program), so our best estimate is that perhaps 10,000 animals were euthanized. About 75% of that was cats & kittens.

    In this county, the choice would be 1) live in restaurant, 2) be euthanized. I wonder which one the cat would choose?

    I would be happy, happy, happy to have a restaurant like that open here. While a restaurant may not be an ideal situation in some people’s eyes, for cats in this county, it would be heaven. Any decent home- where you get love, attention, and basic needs are met- is highly appreciated. That is one less cat put down at the shelter.

    And this restaurant is setting a good example. It is a public business that is showing, through their actions, that cats deserve to be treated with TLC. There are plenty of people in my county that would be just as happy to shoot a cat as to look at it. So I would be very happy to see a business step up & set a standard, show the public how to treat them with care. To show them that there are plenty of people in this county that do care about cats, and that there is another standard, even if they do not believe in it.

  44. ……..”Alf is the owner’s real name…..”.You want your cat stir fried, or baked?”…..

  45. I appreciate you giving thought to the welfare of the cats. So many don’t. Thank you. There are too, too, too many animals that endure brutal lives and die horrific deaths. All I care about is that these cats are safe and cared for and happy.

  46. Forgot to mention-

    I agree that for customers looking for a little one-on-one time with cats, that going to a local shelter would be best. But that is simply not going to happen. When was the last time you visited a high-kill shelter?

    I have spent the last 5 years doing volunteer work for a lot of different animal rescue groups, both government and private. And getting the public to deal with their negative, pre-conceived (but usually true, in our county) notions and go to the shelter is just about impossible. It is a loud, depressing place. Many of the animals are stressed and/or sick. We all know that most of the animals you see there are not going to make it out alive. And people just do not want to go there and see it. I can’t blame them. I don’t want too, either- it is absolutely heartbreaking.

    We have much better success with adoption events held by private groups, in public areas, where usually everyone is happy and the animals are in good health. Yes, it sucks that people do not want to help the most needy cats because it is so hard to emotionally deal with the animal shelter. But until the word is a better place, I am happy to see any public venue that fosters a positive & loving environment for people to interact with cats.

  47. I think the majority of comments on this post perfectly highlight the issue of speciesism. People favour the welfare and wellbeing of certain types of animals over others. There are so many comments suggesting I don’t care about cats or am unaware of their plight. That viewpoint is ludicrous at best. This post was written to highlight how grotesque it is to celebrate one animal to such a bizarre level while eating other animals in the same room. It is perverse. Also, I wanted to bring attention to the way humans use even rescue animals for their own enjoyment and entertainment. I am suggesting that we rethink why it is that we feel we have the right to do whatever we want with animals and change our approach to helping animals. Animal welfare shouldn’t be tied to extrinsic motivation, it should happen because it is the right thing to do. You shouldn’t need the company of a cute cat in order to prompt you to help that cat. Just do it. You might never even meet the cats you are helping but that shouldn’t matter. I have a feeling that many of the ‘animal lovers’ expressing their contempt for my post are the type of people to eat eggs, milk and probably meat from other animals. You are not an animal lover if you benefit from their exploitation. Yes, you probably love cats and do a lot for cats but I would love for you to think how your actions in life impact on countless unseen creatures. I would also charge that focussing all of your good intentions on cats makes it easier to justify not giving much thought to other animals. You say you love animals because you rescue cats and visit their cafe and pet them all day so you are doing your part, right? Improving outcomes for animals needs to be much broader than celebrating cats and soaking in the attention they give back. There needs to be a global shift in how humans (even kind humans) view and care for all animals.

  48. The points being made here have been ignored: speciesism and using animals for our entertainment. For the sake of what people think these cats feel, let’s agree they are more or less happy with their environment (though this has been disputed by those who have been inside, setting people taking advantage of the cats as some kind of living ornaments). This proves how comfortable WE are, these cats aside, with using other species as objects of property or profit. Sure, these cats are probably happier than if they were being neglected in a ruddy shelter – again, completely hypothetically – but we can say the same about any situation. Is a young girl sold off by her family happier because at least now she has food where she would have not otherwise? The answer is, probably yes, but she is being exploited for profit and does not have a voice about it. Most people would call this dispicable. Does less exploitation equal no exploitation? Of course not!

    Now, this is also a business these people are running. I can tell you as a business owner that the reason we are in business is to make profit or you would not be in business – otherwise, set up a volunteer organisation or apply for a non-profit sanctuary. If the owners of this establishment were serious about animal rights, they would own no such business and have a safe, familiar, stable, environment for these rescue cats. The problem then is that these rescue cats are being used as the backbone of a business where their “welfare” may or may not be respected. At the Emporium, does the customer come first or the cat? I’m confused at the motivations of the owners, but I’m certain their business model is a clever model: do something different and make a profit under the guise of being an “animal lover”.

    Many people confuse being an “animal lover” with agreeing with animal rights. Animal lovers regularly engage in showing care for some animals in certain situations and in others – not at all. A great example is loving cats while sitting down to eat a plate of chicken. Or being disgusted that dogs are eaten in China because they love their own dog.

    Furthermore, animal lovers and welfare activists will pick and choose which animal campaigns are worth fighting for or supporting and disregard others such saying that we should saving actually be saving rainforest creatures rather than spending time debating over cats in windows… which leads us chasing our tails in a circle ending up right where we have always been: an animal-loving / animal-exploiting culture at the same time. We either keep a baseline with regard to animal life or we don’t and there is no in between. All causes are worth it, and that means veganism is the logical baseline with education being at the foreground instead of violence, this-campaign-not-that-campaign, etc.

    This issue is worth thinking about, definitely!

  49. I think the fact that this cafe has rescued cats and is now able to keep them safe and healthy is a point that cannot be so easily overlooked.

    The author says he would feel uneasy going to this cafe due to the fact that animals are on display. I would challenge this by asking if the author has ever been to, or shopped in a supermarket or other store where animals are also on display. Like the cat cafe they are still displayed as commodities. However in these cases those animals are dead. If you are suggesting avoiding a cat cafe that has done tangible good for the cats now living there then you must also advocate avoiding all other stores that might have animals in display? Especially as those other establishments have never done anything to help a struggling animal in such a clear and obvious way.

    Furthermore the author says the “cognitive dissonance” of this situation is a problem for him. People eating animals while stroking and caring for other animals. Cognitive dissonance is a theory of two things not making sense in one’s mind. This creates discomfort and a desire to resolve the conflict. Surely it is exactly this cognitive dissonance that may help non-vegans to join the dots in their minds and realise the potential hypocrisy of eating an animal while loving another animal? It is exactly this sort of situation that might challenge them to consider why they care for one animal but not another. Removing all possible situations like this would prevent omnivores from being challenged by this conflict which is created by the cognitive dissonance the author so dislikes. This in turn could lead to less vegans.

    There was a recent article written by Moby in Rolling Stone explaining his reason for becoming a vegan. (Link http://m.rollingstone.com/culture/news/opinion-why-im-vegan-by-moby-20140318 ) As he explains, it is exactly the cognitive dissonance of caring for his pet cat whilst eating meat that challenged him and compelled him to give up all animal products. His article is a very articulate and considered look at what might lead someone to adopt a vegan lifestyle. I would urge any of the non-vegan commenters above who might be confused or put off veganism by this blog post to read Moby’s article.

  50. I live quite near this cafe and often walk past. On Sunday there were 3 cats on the scratching posts in the window and about 10 tourists outside taking photos and gawping. It was like the women in windows in Amsterdam. The cats had obviously gone to the posts to get away from the people in the cafe and here they were being bothered and there was nowhere else for them to go. It changed my opinion of the cafe – I had planned to go myself one day – and made me feel uncomfortable.

  51. […] 2 shops now, Lazy Rhubarb in Tulse Hill and Lady Dinah’s in Shoreditch (FGV says, “Boo!“) and they’ve been keeping us busy. Lady’s Dinah’s we supply twice a week […]

  52. […] critique of the cat cafe in east London drew a huge number of responses, ranging from people who thought it was an […]

  53. first, many of you over think cats. i own a bar that is in a part of dallas, tx with a LOT of stray animals. one cat turned into 4 that turned into 8 that turned in 14. i have all of them TNRd and they are feral. although i feed and provide shelter for those creatures, they live outside and are subject to whatever. to even think that the cats in this cafe are being exploited, mistreated or whatever is absurd. i bet any one of my ferals would trade places to be a cafe cat…food, shelter and an occasional scratch on the head (or not). if you’d like to witness the life of a feral cat and their hardships, come see me. i’ll show you their battle scars. until then, go have a coffee at that place and find something else to be outraged about.

  54. Hi,
    Whiskers Cat Cafe is going to be a new kind of cafe, it will be a UK charity – Whiskers Cat Cafe Foundation. The cats in our care are going to be living content healthy lives and we will be adopting cats who are used to living indoors. We will also be giving back to cat shelters locally and providing Animal Assisted Therapy to those who might need it.

    See our website for more details:


    Thanks 🙂

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