Cat cafés became tourist attractions in Taiwan, when the world’s first Cat Café was opened in 1998 in Taipei. Not long after, the popularity of the concept evolved in Japan and “Neko no Jikan” was opened in Osaka in 2004. In Scarborough, UK the only Cat Café is the Steampuss Cat Lounge, the home of 12 adorable Pedigree cats housed in a cozy and friendly atmosphere, offering a wonderful experience for tourists and town locals.
“Situated down the charming cobbled Bar Street in the heart of Scarborough town centre, Steampuss provides you with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where you can take a break from shopping, studies or work in an interesting steampunk environment.” The Cat Lounge offers some delicious cakes and milkshakes that I totally reccomend as they were the best I have tried in Scarborough. Steampuss is opened from Tuesday to Sunday and it is recommended to book your visit in advance. They also have a Purrchandise collection of mugs, T-shirts, keyrings and face masks available in the Lounge for those looking to buy a lovely souvenir. You can view all of their products by clicking here.
At the Steampuss Cat Lounge, children of all ages are allowed to play with the adorable cats, as long as they are supervised at all times, in order to protect the wellfare of the cats. The Cat Lounge is spread across 2 floors (ground floor and basement level). The ground floor is fully accessible to those with limited mobility and they also have a fantastic loyalty card offered to everyone at the end of the visit. You can read more about all the facilities here.
If you are wondering if you can adopt one of the cats or where do they come from, you should know that all the cats are purebred, which means that they have a “Pedigree from registered GCCF breeders who abide by the rules of ethical breeding.” Unlike other Cat Cafes from UK (and probably the world), the Steampuss Cat Cafe made the decision to use Pedigree cats simply because they “could carefully select them based on their nature” and “many rescue cats have a fear of people.”
“The majority of the Steampuss cats have been coming to the café on a regular basis since they were 4 months old and because of this they are very relaxed in this environment and see it as a second home. This ensures that all of our visitors have the best possible experience as the cats are happy and confident to interact with people. Also this means that ourselves and our visitors can rest assured that all of the Steampuss cats are content and not have to worry that they are feeling frightened or overwhelmed.” All the cats have owners and they are taken home every night. The “Steampuss Cat Lounge is the only ‘Cat Café’ in the UK that do not leave the cats in the café overnight.”
According to the Cat Cafe, “The Steampuss cats are not up for adoption. All 12 feline members of Steampuss are our fur-babies and are as much a part of our family as any human family members.”
If you do want to visit the Steampuss Cat Cafe you should know that there are some necessary house rules to ensure a safe environment for both the cats and the costumers. For example you are not allowed to pick up the cats, you are not allowed to feed them ( unless you receive some safe treats from the staff members) , you should not wear stiletto shoes inside the Cat Cafe or to use other toys except the ones provided inside the location, you shouldn’t run, chase or hold onto the cats while they are moving and the most important of all, if you take photos, always turn off the Flash as the cats’ eyes are sensitive.
One of the reasons why Cat Cafes became so popular is that cats can offer some powerful health benefits, the most important of them being the ability to help people with mental illness and autism by providing mentally and emotionally comfort. More than that, cats can also alienate anxiety and stress, have calming effects on their owners and they can be great companions. Cat Cafes are popular destinations for people who live in apartments that do not allow owning a pet or for those who, for different reasons, they cannot properly care for a pet. ( For more info about owning a pet in the UK check out my previous article)
The Mental Health Foundation carried out a study with Cats Protection in 2011 which involved over 600 cat- and non-cat-owning respondents, with half of them describing themselves as currently having a mental health problem. The survey found that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends. Half of the cat owners felt that their cat’s presence and companionship was most helpful, followed by a third of respondents who described stroking a cat as a calming and helpful activity.
In UK, the first cat cafe dates from 2013 and it is now situated in Newton Abbott.
Cat Cafes all over the world aim to offer relaxed, pleasant and soothing environments, free from all the urban stress, where cats and humans can interact with each other in a friendly atmosphere. After all, pets can offer real joy and unconditional love to someone’s life. Moreover, there are a few scientifically proven health benefits that show how extraordinary cats can be. It’s a known fact that purring is one of the most soothing sounds in the world and can also have a therapeutic role for your wellbeing. According to some sources, a cat’s purr creates vibrations at a frequency of 20-140 HZ, and studies have shown that frequencies in the 18-35 HZ range have a positive effect on joint mobility after an injury.
Also, in 2002, the National Institutes of Health released a study that found children under a year old who were exposed to a cat to be less likely to develop all kinds of allergies. According to Marshall Plaut, M.D., chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “high pet exposure early in life appears to protect against not only pet allergy but also other types of common allergies, such as allergy to dust mites, ragweed, and grass.” (goodnet.org)
The new “Cats by Candlelight” event is available throughout October (Fridays and Saturdays 6-8pm) and you can spend 2 hours with their gorgeous felines in a spooky, atmospheric cafe. You can watch a classic horror film on a large projector screen in the Cat Lounge specially decorated for Halloween!
*Note: No Flash was used during the photo session. All photos © Iconic Magazine Online unless otherwise stated.