If truth be told I think that I would have to admit to not really being a natural pet owner, do not get me wrong I do not, like some people dislike pets. But I am just one of those people who would not chose to own one due to the level of commitment required. This is not to say that in my previous lives I have not had pets, after my parents house got broken into many years ago when the gutless toerag who did it decided that it would be nice to trash the kitchen, so he did emptying all the cupboards, along with the contents of the fridge all over the floor etc. Mum and dad thought that it might be a good investment to buy a dog, so they did and low and behold Timmy the golden Labrador became part of the family.
Truth be told he was useless as a guard dog, but he had a lovely temperament and became a valued family pet. Unlike Pippy the cat who enjoyed disappearing for long periods before casuallly returning with a suitable present. Usually in the form of a beheaded mouse, traditionally brought in as breakfast was being served. Nothing appetising about any of that. So, yes like many pet loving Brits pets were part of the family landscape, as they were when I got married and had a daughter of my own who loved animals. She had hamsters, a bunny called Daisy, and eventually her own golden Labrador called Nugget. My personal track record with her menagerie was not impressive, her first hamster upon returning from the pet shop promptly bit my finger quite badly and then snuffed it within the hour presumably out of guilt.
So, fast forward to 2019, where upon returning from a truly lovely weekend break in Wales I am duly informed that rather than returning home we are in fact going to be diverting to Shrewsbury where we have been booked in to attend a cat cafe called Paws. Frankly I was somewhat taken aback as I did not see that coming in my crystal ball, so we pitched up, filled in the paperwork, removed our shoes and placed paper shoes on our feet and entered the cat cafe.
To be fair it was not as bad as I thought that it was, I was not sure just what to expect but the majority of people in attendance were young families with intrigued young one’s. It was not full of ladies of a certain age wearing braid suits and extolling all their emotions on rent a mog. Indeed the cats who were in residence were not throwbacks from Top Cat for those who are old enough to remember said alley cats. No, these were proper pedigree cats, they oozed professional relaxation as they dutifully slept, and then played with the vast array of toys that had been left for visitors to entertain both themselves and the cats. Ironically for someone like myself who has never courted cats, they seemed to congregate around me, so I did the decent thing and played with them, while avoiding getting scratched. To be honest the hour passed quickly enough, and what I found interesting was the small army of people who walked past and just stopped to watch other people playing with cats.
The other thing that I noticed with interest was that the place was rammed with a constant surge of customers, the vast majority were turned away as they had not pre booked. We had booked a week in advance and just as well. This model clearly has legs, or maybe paws, although I was genuinely surprised that there did not appear to be any dog cafes virtually none at all existed in the UK. So, clearly a potential there for some enterprising soul who wants to mix coffee with Collies, or tea with Terriers, other than one solitary shop in Newcastle I could not fins another doggie related cafe. And given the British obsession with domestic pets, cats and dogs, ironically it is certainly not raining cats and dogs, when it comes to mixing food, drink, and empathetic animals. And ironically for me I actually enjoyed the cat playing experience, it was strangely relaxing, and mildly entertaining.
So, my advice is that if you fancy a different experience mixing with moggies, slurping latte’s and patting purring pussies, then you know where to go. Check out the local scene they are a growing niche, and judging the queues it is clearly hitting the mark.