Animal charity opposes cat cafe plans in Devon
An animal welfare charity has criticised the plans to open a cat cafe in the Devon town of Totnes.
The plan was put forward by Liz Dyas, a former nurse, who wants to provide an opportunity for people to de-stress in the company of cats.
Cat cafes are already prevalent in Russia, Austria and Japan and there is also one currently being considered in London.
However, Cats Protection has opposed the idea and has claimed that it would be stressful for the animals.
A spokesperson for the charity said:"Having quite a large number of cats within a confined space with different people coming and going would actually be very, very stressful for cats and the biggest stress in a cat's life is other cats, so we believe this would be poor welfare for the cats.”
Ms Dyas would use her six “sociable” cats in the cafe and she said that pet therapy is acknowledged by many people as beneficial and can help to stress and anxiety.
Totnes already has an alternative lifestyle image, and Ms Dyas said that it seemed like the perfect location for her feline therapy cafe.
She also said that the number of customers, who would "obviously be cat lovers", would have to maintain a “quiet environment” and sleeping cats would have to be left undisturbed.
She told BBC News: "The idea really is to provide a beautiful, comfortable, quiet lounge where people can come if they'd like to and sit amongst the cats.”
"I'm sure my cats are going to love it," she said after stating that she did not agree with Cat Protection's claim that a cat cafe would be stressful for the animals.
"It's always difficult to be a pioneer, but I'd say to people 'come and see' - we love our cats - and you'd see they have a superb environment, they have everything they need and they certainly won't be put upon by people.
But in a statement, Cats Protection said cats, unlike dogs, were generally solitary animals and keeping them in a confined space like a cafe with a changing group of people would not be good for them.
"Although Cats Protection does not have powers to prevent a cafe like this from being set up, we firmly believe that this kind of environment is not suitable for domestic cats," the statement said.
"It is very likely that some or all of the cats involved will become stressed as a result of being in a confined space with a continually changing group of people."
The charity said it believed that people who cared about the wellbeing of cats would not wish to encourage the venture.
The application for the cat cafe in Fore Street will go before planners later this month.
South Hams District Council said it was unable to comment on the application.