Feline lovers rejoice: Dunmow woman plans to open Cat Cafe in Bury St Edmunds

Gemma and Lauren with their cats as they prepare to open a Cat Cafe.

Gemma and Lauren with their cats as they prepare to open a Cat Cafe. - Credit: Archant

A young businesswoman from Great Dunmow and her friend are planning to open the region’s first Cat Cafe in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Gemma and Lauren with their cats as they prepare to open a Cat Cafe

Gemma and Lauren with their cats as they prepare to open a Cat Cafe - Credit: Archant

Friends Gemma Whitehouse, 28, who attended Helena Romanes School, and Lauren Moyes, 24, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, are passionate about cats and say they want to help find them homes.

The Cat Cafe movement began in Taiwan in 1998 and are now all over the world, giving customers the chance to play with the cats while having something to eat and drink.

The venture is not without controversy. Animal charities in the UK disagree on whether they are a suitable environment for cats.

The friends say Catastrophe will not be “a typical cat cafe with an abundance of cats” with “stressful, constant changes,” but “aims to provide a safe, loving environment for rescued cats to gain confidence, express themselves and entertain us all with their personalities”.

They are yet to find a suitable premises in Bury, but are in discussions with a number of charities and organisations. They have also launched a crowdfunding page. Gemma, whose background is in law and charity work, said: “We really, really love cats. Cat cafes came to the UK about 2013 and it was a big craze. We really wanted one that was also working as an animal rehoming shelter.”

She said there would be a cover fee for customers who could enjoy local, organic food and drink, but any petting of the cats would be on the animals’ terms.

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There would be nine to 12 cats there at any one time, and the chance to adopt one. “We are basically speaking to everyone in the field and hearing what their concerns are and working with them.

“Another concern is the high turnover of cats. We will allow only one cat per month to be adopted so we can keep that set group together.”

Miss Whitehouse, who has three pet cats, said there would be obstacles and trees inside the premises to keep the animals stimulated.

People can buy experiences from the crowdfunding page, at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/catastrophe-cat-cafe, to support the project.

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