Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Totnes: Cats Cafe

"I'll bring your coffee and then you can meet the staff," said the proprietress to my wife. There are six of them: a big black tom who lives under the counter, a woolly ginger who spend most of his time stretched full-length on his favourite chair, a b&w with a tail shortened by mishap (yet still named Felix), Glee the torty, a pretty grey-and-white affair called Lilac and Rolo, a bluish tabby whose favourite game is Scrabble "(especially in the litter tray)", as the profile scrapbook reveals.

Out came the cat treats for the customers to offer, and up came the staff, all cupboard love. This is when I entered the café, via the door-release airlock that seals in the workers until home time. Mango the ginger hardly stirred as I stroked his head; Lilac and Glee competed for the cat biscuits in the plastic containers we held.

Another lady sat next to my wife and we compared the cats we had owned, and how long they had lived; she now had five of them. She was a little disappointed at the obviously ulterior motives of the ménage here, but as I explained, they didn't know us from Adam.

I sipped my tea and glanced through the second book, full of cuttings about the therapeutic benefits of cats. We are such a valetudinarian lot these days, are we not; even sex is to be performed for the sake of your health. I simply like cats - and dogs, and so on.

But as the posters in the window informed passers-by, cats' cafes started in Japan for high-rise dwellers who couldn't keep pets. Cat lovers, the Japanese: Hello Kitty started there, and Maneki-neko, the lucky waving cat (I have one myself). I asked the owner how she had selected her team. She said she'd previously run a hotel-cum-cats' rescue and so had had the opportunity to assess their temperaments.

Children can't come in - because of insurance ("the White Man's Burden", as the Goon Show called it). Some visitors have asked if the café is for bringing their own cats; that would be something to see: even in a Pupil Referral Unit, group dynamics change radically whenever someone joins or leaves. The experience of a bring-your-own-cat playgroup would certainly be educational. Perhaps the café could charge corkage (or Korky-age, for Dandy readers).

We cleaned ourselves with the alcohol hand sanitizers and left, but we'll be back.


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