SPCA is concerned about the welfare of cats housed in cat cafés and the increasing prevalence and lack of regulation of cat cafés.
SPCA acknowledges that most people involved in cat cafés, whether these are the business owners or the patrons, care deeply about cats. However, many domestic cats do not cope well with being kept in confined areas with other cats and having so many cats confined to a busy indoor space can cause stress for asocial cats. Selecting individual cats that will form a successful social group is difficult and a particular challenge for a cat café, where consideration must also be given to the cats’ sociability towards people.
SPCA has additional concerns about cat cafés that are used to rehome a “rolling” population of rescue cats. An ever-changing group of cats and people is likely to cause stress to the animals, increase the risk of infectious disease and compromise cat welfare.
Cat cafés should have rules in place to minimise potentially problematic contact from people. Cats must be provided with areas which allow them to escape from contact with humans, other cats and potentially stressful aspects of the café environment (e.g. noise, strange smells, movement).
Cats can be extremely subtle in showing signs of stress, engaging instead in behaviours that mask their distress, such as feigning sleep. So, even at cat cafés which are well-managed, there is a risk these signs of stress could easily be overlooked.