Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

The cat's whiskers: Scotland's first ever cat cafe to open in Edinburgh

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Would you like a cat with your coffee?

A new 'cat cafe' will be the very first of its kind in Scotland.

Maison de Moggy is based on Japansese-style themed caf├ęs, which allow customers to play, photograph and cuddle felines while enjoying a tea or coffee.

The brainchild of Laura O'Neill, 27, she says she decided to bring the unusual idea home with her, after holidaying in Japan earlier this year.

The cafe-come-cattery, will open in Stockbridge, in the new year.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive programme, Ms O'Neill said "When I was looking to things to do on my trip to Japan back in June, I looked on Trip Advisor and one of the top things was 'visit a cat cafe'.

"I'd never heard of a 'cat cafe' before so I looked a little bit more into it and decided to go and visit one."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The concept has been successfully exported to the USA, with Cat Town Cafe opening in California earlier this year.

But despite being referred to as a 'cafe', Ms O'Neill, an employment lawyer by day, says keeping customers fed and watered is far from her biggest priority.

"The traditional style of a cat cafe is very much focused on the cat, so its not really a cafe per se", she said.

"You'll maybe get a drink but its not concentrating on the food."

So with cats the star attraction at Maison de Moggy, what kind of entertainment do they provide for the paying customers?

"People just pet the cats, take pictures of them. There's always people taking selfies with the cats", Ms O'Neill says.

"In Japan some of the cats even had little top hats and things on."

"There's maybe eight cats in one room, and there's people just relaxing and chilling out with the cats - it's lovely!"

When it comes to questions over the cats' welfare, Laura has been quick to try and allay any concerns.

Image copyright PA
Image caption All Maison de Moggy's cats were reared by owner Laura O'Neill, but cat cafes in other parts of the world have sourced the animals from local animal shelters and are available for adoption.

"I've sourced all the cats myself from kittens", she argues. "I've reared them so I know their behaviours, and I know they all get on. I obviously wouldn't put them in a cat cafe if I thought they were going to be acting out."

She has even hired a dedicated cat nanny who will be supervising both the customers and the cats.

Although for the meantime the 'cafe' is just a pop-up venture "to let the people of Edinburgh experience the concept", Laura is optimistic that the idea will take off and is keen to set up shop permanently.

She says, "We are massively cat lovers here, and we appreciate the therapeutic benefits that cats can have.

"Stockbridge, is well known for its puppies and dogs, why not cats as well?"

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