York diners could soon be tucking into sandwiches, tea and cake alongside some furry friends – if plans for the city’s first cat café take off.

The idea of the café is to allow people to eat in the company of cats from local rescue centres, benefiting both the abandoned animals and their human companions.

The Scratching Post

Planned for the Shambles / Colliergate area

Support the cat café at the Crowdfunder page

More on the Facebook page

It is the brainchild of Nikki Smales. She has had cats in her family since she was three years old, and knows from her own family’s experience how therapeutic the animals can be.

When Nikki’s grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, she suggested to her grandmother that she should get one for company and to relieve stress – and Honey came into their lives.

Sadly her grandfather died, and her grandmother passed away not long afterwards. Nikki inherited Honey, and has used the kitty as a way of channelling her own grief.

“Within a few months of owning her rescue cat, Honey, my grandma’s blood pressure had reduced to within healthy limits,” said Nikki, 30, who is studying for a PhD in education.

“When my grandad passed away Honey helped my grandma deal with the loneliness. And since my grandma recently died too, I have inherited Honey and she has helped with my grief.”

Good for humans…

Now Nikki, who was born in York and has lived in Yorkshire all her life, hopes to open the city centre’s first cat café to reach out to others who may be in need.

“During my period of mourning the loss of my grandma, I launched the project, to reach out to others who may be in need cats and indeed any rescue cats that need love and attention.”

Nikki originally launched the crowdfunding project online last December, having christened the café The Scratching Post. 
It has now been relaunched thanks to some backers keen to see the café come into being.

She explained how it will work.

I have planned how the cafe will operate following models from the many other successful cat cafés from across the world.
The food and drinks will be prepared in a separate area to maintain hygiene conditions and guests will have a choice of whether to dine with the cats or to sit outside the cat zone and just watch the cats, perhaps taking their drink through once they’ve finished eating.
All guests will be greeted by a cat carer, who will introduce them to the cats. We will work closely with cat welfare organisations to ensure maximum comfort for the cats.
We will be serving a range of teas, coffees and pure fruit juices along with sandwiches, cakes and, for a special treat, a full afternoon tea.
Cats and cafés do mix
Cats and cafés do mix

…And good for cats

Nikki and the team intend to work with local rescue charities to provide foster homes, particularly for cats that have been in rescue centre for a long time (known as ‘sticky cats’).  

The cats in the café would then be available for adoption. It would also provide opportunities for cat carers, who would introduce guests to the cats, explain their likes and dislikes, educate and raise awareness about cat adoption and promote the work of the rescue centre.

“We currently have a team of around six but this is growing as people are hearing about the project,” Nikki told YorkMix

“The Scratching Post name was suggested by one of the project backers, Alanna, and it also received the most likes on the project Facebook page. I think it really captures the concept of the cat café.

“We have been raising awareness by taking to the streets to talk to potential backers, handing out treats and flyers and meeting with other similar organisations in the city centre.”

Alanna with two more of the project backers, Evie Paffard and Seraphina Taylor
Alanna with two more of the project backers, Evie Paffard and Seraphina Taylor

The crowdfunding project has already raised £195 of its £25,000 target. “Backers of the project will receive vouchers to visit the café and sample some of our menu in the company of cats.”

Nikki is hopeful that if enough people back the idea then the café can open around three months after she has secured a venue in the Shambles or Colliergate area. That would keep it close to both The Cat Gallery and York Lucky Cats, as well as being on the York Cat Trail.

54 thoughts on “York’s first cat café planned – to let you dine alongside furry friends

  1. When there’s children living in poverty or on the streets, starving or abused by people they trust in our own country who gives a crap about the cats, you would do better taking your £195 to the NSPCC, cause this wont go any further, whats next we pay to feed the cats milk and tuna? Whilst we all catch rabies? This is illogical and worries me why can the human race can be so moronic! Also what hapoens if a cat attacks someone or a child and seriously injures them? Oh yeh the cat will get put down!! Operation cat crazy fails! By the way anyone heard of one of them petting zoos?

  2. think its a great idea I own a 16yrold cat called sassy got her as a 5month old kitten from rescue centre.Had cats all my life thy are very thereputic.Been to a cat café in Amsterdam was very well run 7 cats were there and to these stupid people who talk about health safety this café cleaner then sum peoples homes

  3. Hmmm so basically crazy cat ladies got together to make a cafe meow?

    Quite interesting idea meow… I hope there is enough litter boxes meow!

  4. Suppose suits cat lover I think it’s rank why would you want them licking their arse on your table while trying to eat and hairs In the food not for me personally

  5. Hmmm… they’ve crowd funded £195 of the required £25K. And the prime mover is studying for a PhD in Education. Either PhD’s are getting easier (everyone I ever met doing one looked sick with overwork) or this is a jolly project for 3 pals who have no intention of running a cafe full time, let alone a cafe fraught with difficulties from the off. The phrase ‘castles in the air’ springs to mind. And if you can raise £25K online, why not just donate it to the rescue centre, and then raise some more? I’m sure they’d prefer the cash, most charities do.

  6. Seriously . April fools is at the beginning of the month . I can’t think of anything worse I am a dog person and never understood people liking cats as they are less responsive then goldfish. . I wonder what hygiene rating it gets. You might come out with more then you paid for . I scratch that draws blood or worse fleas.

    1. John you have obviously never owned a cat, a cat would give you a wide birth if you are giving off vibes like that. Cats are just as loving as dogs and I should know because I have had both, and they are extremely affectionate but intelligent enough to know when someone doesn’t like them. you must be very narrow minded.

    1. don’t know if ur joking?? a rubbish joke by the way. or if ur just cuckoo!!!! and ur just silly!!. really
      hope it happens as my auntie and I will definitely go as we are cat lovers and both have a cat . and I agree as long as the cats are safe etc which I’m sure they will be and the girls look sensible and have the cats best interests at heart!!!. I’m sure.it will be a big success!:-) can’t wait to go have a nice cappuccino and be really calm and chilled out stroking the cats. one down side il want to take them all home!!!:-) . sure food etc will b desperate to cats so will b hygienic!! of course it will be otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to open. see you all there!!!:-).

  7. I am in favour if and only if the welfare of the cats is paramount. I am doubtful about the cats being for adoption because constantly introducing new cats to replace adopted ones would be stressful and not conducive to a harmonious environment I don’t think. I have been to a cat cafe in Totnes – but sadly this had to close due to the owner’s ill health and my daughter has been to Lady Dinah’s in London. Both of them were excellent and the one in Totnes was non-profit making with all the money going to animal welfare charities. No one under the age of 16 was allowed in to the one in Totnes which obviously limits the possible numbers visiting but again is a good thing for the cats. Also the rules were very strict indeed and customers had to wait for the cats to approach them. For both Totnes and London, bookings had to be made and then people could stay for either one hour in Totnes and I think (but am not sure) two hours at the one in London. I spoke extensively to the lady who ran the Totnes one and she took all the cats home with her each night. The cats were indeed loved and cared for. However the lady said that initially she had intended the profits to go to Cats Protection but I was advised that as cat cafes were against the ethics of Cats Protection, then that was not possible. I wonder which rescue centres are in favour of this project. Cats can be very territorial and can suffer badly from stress so, whilst I approve of the idea in principle, I am very concerned about the adoption aspect which would lead to bringing in new cats. This needs to be thought through very carefully indeed or the cats will be the losers I am sorry to say.

  8. In theory it sounds like a lovely idea and I’m sure the intentions are good, but in practice I worry about the cats welfare as well as the hygiene issue of having animals along side food and drink.
    You can’t force cats to sit with you and I could easily see the cats getting stressed and eventually either the cats being very unhappy or some one getting scratched. Never mind the fact this idea takes cats away from rescue centres, where they could be getting placed in a real home.
    It’s not fair on any animal to be used in this way, first there was a “Owl Bar” in London that got huge back lash for what they were doing, and they had to move to a ‘secret location’ because of it. And now it seems to be a fad to include animals as gimmicks. I’ve also seen a “pig-nic” and “fox cafe” ideas too.
    Personally I think it’s a terrible idea and I do not support it.

      1. I was perfectly polite in my post, expressing my opinion and genuine concerns. I don’t care if you disagree, but slinging insults isn’t going to convince me it’s a good idea.
        If any one is a “dirty little troll”, it’s you.

  9. Well I wish them luck. City of York Council have inspected our Chatterbox cafe selling only tea, coffee and cakes once a month and are making it virtually impossible for us volunteers to carry on due to their over zealous interpretation of the rules

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