Cat cafe: Crowds flock to meet moggies

Three-year-old Estrella Barry strokes Marcel. Picture: SWNS
Three-year-old Estrella Barry strokes Marcel. Picture: SWNS
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CATS are not famed for displays of affection but the same could not be said for enthusiastic customers who descended on the Capital’s new cat cafe for it’s sold out opening day.

Stockbridge now boasts Scotland’s first “cat cafe” – Maison de Moggy, in Hamilton Place, which is inspired by hugely popular ventures in Japan where visitors can spend an hour cuddling kittens over a cup of tea.

Aaron Matthews and Alice Bromfield relax in Maison de Moggy. Picture: Jane Barlow

Aaron Matthews and Alice Bromfield relax in Maison de Moggy. Picture: Jane Barlow

Feline lovers are asked to remove their shoes and sanitise their hands before heading into the cat’s quirky playground at Maison de Moggy, which was dreamed up by Leith-based design studio SPLINTR.

Thirty customers are allowed in at once to spend an hour chilling out with the ten resident cats and sipping cups of tea.

The pack of moggies – which all have French names as a nod to the cafe’s Gallic theme – can snuggle up in wall-mounted boxes or dash around on the walkways above the heads of the crowd.

Some of the pampered pets snoozed near the heater or on sofas yesterday, allowing visitors to pet them, while the more excitable cats darted across the room to play with the range of different toys.

Maison de Moggy was fully booked all of yesterday, forcing staff to turn away dozens of disappointed punters who queued up outside and pressed their faces against the window wistfully.

Owner Laura O’Neill hailed the opening day a success and said she hoped to run the pop-up for at least three months before finding a more permanent base.

Laura, who has currently given up her day job as a lawyer, said: “To be fully booked on our first day is absolutely fantastic. We had such a fantastic response on social media when we first came up with the idea that we knew there was an appetite for it. Everyone likes to try a new experience.

“We are really pleased by how it has gone. We think people will end up choosing a favourite and we hope they will come back and visit them.”

The cats have been sourced by Laura from all over the UK and socialised together for weeks before they were moved into their new home where they inhabit a “luxury cattery” on the site.

Ms O’Neill, 27, added: “They have all been together for months now so that they could all bond. Then we brought them here so they could get used to the space. We had to make sure they all got on well together as if any of them weren’t happy we would have taken them out of the situation.”

The cafe also boasts a special cat nanny who keeps an eye on all the furry creatures to make sure they are happy.

Rare Norwegian Forest cat, Jacques, is the eldest of the group at two years old and definitely rules the roost, according to Laura. The majestic feline also insists on having a special diet of whole shrimp and tuna – compared with the specialist dry food diet the other cats are happy to eat.

Little British Short Hair youngster Sebastian was drawing a crowd by leaping around after a mouse toy, while Maine Coon kitty Pauline showed off her unusual pawshake, as she is a polydactyl with extra toes.

Meanwhile stripey Bengal Phillipe snoozed for the entire session in a wall mounted box – unaware that he was a star attraction for visitors snapping pictures for their social media accounts.

Along with his brother Marcel, Phillipe was brought up from England where he had a rough start in life but is now beginning to thrive. Guillaume, a fluffy Chinchilla Persian, was named after William Shakespeare as they were both born in Stratford-upon -von, while Edinburgh-born Pierre. a pedigree blue pointed ragdoll, gained admirers for his unusual two-toned blue eyes.

Dainty British Short Hair kitten Coco could often be seen making gravity-defying leaps from table to table and up into the various nooks and crannies laid out across the building.

The cafe also boasts a downstairs relaxation zone for pets where two ragdoll kittens Alain and Amelie enjoyed a cat-nap by the radiator, before chasing a flashing light toy around, watched by a gaggle of eager visitors.

Sarah Cooper, 19, of Marchmont, said: “It’s been really good. I’m a student so we don’t have the chance to have animals in the flat. It’s really great for de-stressing to spend time here.”

The third year electronic engineering student said: “I have already booked to come back as it’s so much fun.”

Pals Daniel King and Kerry Sutherland travelled from their home in Dunfermline to be there for the opening.

Daniel, 19, a law student at Edinburgh University, said: “I would come here every day if I could but sadly I don’t think that’s possible.

“We travelled about 45 minutes to get here. Once we heard it was opening we thought immediately ‘Let’s go’.”

Psychology student Kerry, also 19, said: “We both love cats and it has been great fun being here.”

Meanwhile Chris Biggs, from Roseburn, was dragged along to the cafe by his girlfriend but ended up having a fantastic time.

The 28-year-old said: “We can’t have cats in our flat so it’s nice to come along and hang out with these guys.

“It’s quite a unique experience, isn’t it.”

He picked the ragdoll cats as his favourite and said he might visit again to check up on them.

Forensic scientist Joni Walker, 34, spent a happy hour in the cafe. She said: “It’s brilliant – a cat-lover’s dream.

“I’ve been to the one in London and I think it is really great that Edinburgh has got it’s own cat cafe now. I think it will be really popular with so many people.

“When I arrived there were so many people queuing and peering in through the windows. It feels like a great, secret club.”

Even though she has two cats at her home in Leith, Ms Walker said she would definitely visit again to hang out with the rare varieties in the cafe. She said: “I know these are supposed to be for people who don’t have access to pets but it is so nice to come and have a cuppa and be surrounded by cats.

“I get a bit used to my own cats and it’s nice to see these other one here. I really like the Bengals but they are all so nice.”

Maison de Moggy also operates like a normal cafe with the five-strong team constantly bringing out mouth-watering cakes to the customers - prepared in a cat-free zone at the back.

The cat cafe is open daily from 11am to 7pm, in Hamilton Place.

Visitors pay £6 during the week and £7 at weekend for an hour session, which will go directly towards the cats’ care, including toys, food and vet bills.Booking in advance is strongly advised.