THE Capital’s first ever cat cafe is set to open its doors to the public next month.
Maison de Moggy in Stockbridge will allow customers to sip a cuppa while enjoying the company of a fluffy chinchilla Persian, a duo of outgoing Bengals and a dozen other resident cats.
The quirky concept, which originated in Japan, has grown in popularity across Europe.
And Edinburgh employment lawyer and entrepreneur Laura O’Neill, 27, is preparing to bring Scotland its first taste of that culture after signing a temporary lease for a pop-up cat cafe on Hamilton Place.
A team of city designers are already working to revamp the premises to cater for Ms O’Neill’s pack of felines, which were all specially bred for social interaction. A room filled with toys and climbing spots will allow customers a chance to play with the younger, more outgoing cats – while a separate quiet area will focus on maximising cuddle time.
“In June, I went on a trip to Japan and absolutely fell in love with the entire cat cafe concept,” Ms O’Neill explained.
“A lot of people aren’t able to keep pets, and so visiting these cafes and spending time with the animals can be really therapeutic for them. When I got back to Scotland, I decided the people of Edinburgh needed to be able to experience that concept, too.”
Ms O’Neill is now set to make that dream become a reality, and since June has been sourcing rare cats and kittens from across the UK. She is now on the hunt for full-time cat nannies to look after the animals.
“The biggest concern will always be making sure the cats are happy,” she said.
UK vets have warned against the potential danger of relegating felines to the cafe lifestyle.
But a spokesman for International Cat Care said concept can be beneficial for both human and feline.
He said: “Research shows numerous health benefits associated with animal ownership, including reduced stress levels and lowered risk of heart disease. The human animal bond is what makes pet ownership so fulfilling. So it is not difficult to see the attraction of ‘pet rental’ to those who can’t have a cat at home.”
Ricky Phillips, of the Stockbridge Traders Association, said Moggy de Maison would be a welcome addition to the area.
“We’re already one of the most dog-friendly neighbourhoods in Edinburgh, so it only makes sense we’re being equally as cat-friendly,” he said. “This idea sounds fun and I’m really interested to see how it will turn out.”
Ms O’Neill isn’t the only entrepreneur looking to introduce cat cafe culture to the capital – sisters Marta and Anna Tajsiak have launched a crowd-funding campaign to help them start a similar venture in Marchmont and say they are now working to finalise legal arrangements so they can open a cat cafe of their own.
“The goal is to be up and running early next spring,” Marta said.