The owner of a new ‘cat cafe’ on Bedford High Street has been amazed by the response from customers since they opened this week.
Owner, 19-year-old Willow Mayes, said she was inspired to open the concept cafe based on her love of cats and a desire give customers the chance to experience the mental and physical benefits of being around cats.
Customers can book a session for £5 which gives them entry for 1 hour 15 minutes and includes a hot drink
The team took their time to find the right location for the cafe. “It was really important that the building was somewhere that was safe for the cats so we had to make sure it was just right,” explained Willow.
“We never expected to secure a High Street location, but we feel that the building is absolutely perfect.”
The Bedford Cat Cafe is in the former Kiln property at 87 High Street and is home to 10 cats.
“We completed a fairly big refit on the premises,” said Willow.
“It was really important that we created a fantastic and safe environment for the cats as well as making the building as accessible as possible to the public, in particular we wanted it to be as disabled accessible as possible.
“For the safety of our cats we also installed a secure entry system, safe place for the cats at night, cat toilet facilities and lots of cat enrichment equipment.”
Describing the feline residents, Willow said, “All our cats have different personalities, but they are all friendly and enjoy spending time with people, they are also cats that have previously lived with other cats.
“As we work in partnership with a cat charity we are guided by them regarding which cats are suitable for the cafe.”
She said that if a cat was not settling in and did not seem to be enjoying the cafe life, they would not hesitate to rehome them through their partner charity. “This is just one of the reasons having a partner charity was so important to us,” said Willow.
“A benefit of our cafe is that we have provided forever homes to cats who needed a home, in particular cats with disabilities who may be overlooked for adoption.
“We have several cats who would be considered more difficult to adopt cats and we have been able to provide them with the needed.”
While Willow acknowledges that some national cat charities are opposed to the cat cafe concept, she has partnered with a cat rescue charity that is supportive of the environment they’ve created and the care provided to the cats.
“We have also been inspected by environmental health and we hold an animal welfare licence to ensure we provide the highest standards of care for our cats,” said Willow.
“We have a registered vets who are very happy with the environment we have provided for our cats.
“For us, the welfare of our cats is at the centre of everything we do. We do understand that not everyone feels able to support cat cafes, but we are always happy to discuss concerns that people may have to try and offer some reassurances about how we do things. If you meet our cats you will see that they are happy and relaxed and enjoy their home at Bedford Cat Cafe.
“Our cafe cats (and their human servants) are excited to meet you,” said Willow.
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org