Leicester cat cafe causes concerns over hygiene

Cat looking at the menu inside Cats, Cakes and Coffee Image copyright Clarendon Spark
Image caption Cats, Cakes and Coffee has been open for less than a week

Concerns have been raised about hygiene and animal welfare at a new cat cafe in Leicester.

Cats, Cakes and Coffee opened on Saturday, offering animal lovers the chance to "snuggle" with 10 cats while having food and drink.

Leicester City Council said it has had three reports from concerned members of the public.

But Lisa Rivers, the cafe's owner, said her cats are all happy and the cafe is hygienic.

Image copyright Clarendon Spark
Image caption The cats "laze around most of the day", the cafe owner says

"Regarding hygiene, the cafe is cleaned at the beginning and end of each day, plus in between each session," she said.

"The cats have three sealed litter trays to choose from, which are also checked and cleaned as regularly as the rest of the cafe is cleaned."

The 10 cats used to live in Ms Rivers' home before she moved them to the cafe.

She said they "laze around most of the day and are very relaxed and happy" as they are used to living together.

Image copyright Clarendon Spark
Image caption It is claimed there is an "overpowering smell of cat faeces" at the cafe

Dominic Shellard, vice chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester, tweeted that he was "very disturbed" when he visited the cafe.

He said there was an "overpowering smell of cat faeces" and the cats "looked very sad".

He added that he was "worried about the cats - and you certainly wouldn't want to eat there".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Dominic Shellard, vice chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester, tweeted his concerns

Ms Rivers said the food is outsourced and none is prepared on the premises, for hygiene reasons.

She said Mr Shellard had been booked for a session starting at 13:00 BST but arrived an hour early, while her son was looking after the cats, then did not return.

Other visitors have given positive reviews, she pointed out, including on the Clarendon Spark blog and on the cafe's Facebook page.

Leicester City Council said its officers were due to carry out a routine food hygiene inspection next week.

Cat cafe craze

Image copyright PA
Image caption Money to pay for Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in London was raised via a crowdfunding website
  • The world's first cat cafe is thought to have opened in Taiwan in 1998, and the concept then became popular in Japan
  • The idea has spread around the world in recent years, with cat cafes in Paris and London attracting long waiting lists
  • The charity Cats Protection has said it is "concerned about the welfare implications of having a number of cats in a limited space with groups of people unknown to them coming and going throughout the day"
  • It believes that "people who care about the wellbeing of cats would not want them to be exploited as a gimmick to sell coffee and would therefore not wish to encourage the launch of these establishments"

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