Are Cat Cafes Ethical?


What could be better than sipping on a hot coffee and hanging out with cats at a cat cafe? Cat cafes are public spaces where guests can pay to hang out with cats and sometimes get a drink or a bite to eat at the same time.

With all the hustle and bustle of cat cafes, a lot of us are wondering: are cat cafes ethical? This depends on the establishment and the ground rules guests need to follow while they hang out with the cats. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about cat cafes so you can decide if they’re worth a visit.

cat on grass

What are Cat Cafes?

Cat cafes originated in Taiwan and now they exist all around the world. At a cat cafe, you can sip on a beverage and enjoy a snack in the company of free-roaming cats. Most cat cafes have an entrance fee in addition to the cost of the food and drink. Most often this money goes towards caring for the cats.

Are Cat Cafes For-Profit?

The purpose of cat cafes can vary depending on the establishment. While some are re-homing centers that have adoptable cats, others are purely for-profit and the cats are residents rather than guests.

However, just because a cat cafe is for-profit, that does not mean that its purpose isn’t altruistic. Many cat cafes hold events to raise money and awareness for local animal shelters.

There are also plenty of non-profit cat cafes where cats can live out their lives comfortably while waiting for their forever home. In either scenario, cat cafes are a great way to promote cat adoption.

Are Cat Cafes Ethical?

This depends on the environment in the individual cafe. Cats are naturally more cautious, independent animals who thrive on routine. This can make a busy cafe with lots of people coming in and out a stressful environment for a cat.

Ideally, cat cafes will be set up with lots of hiding spaces for cats who prefer their solitude so that they are not forced to interact with the visitors. Many cat cafes often have a maximum capacity of a few people at a time to keep the room more calm and quiet.

Cat cafes provide a safe space for cats to interact and enjoy each other's company. It's a common belief that cats are solitary creatures. However, quite the opposite is true! Cats are very social creatures and form tight bonds with their social groups.

Of course every cat is different and some do prefer their solitude over constant mingling. Cats communicate with each other in different ways depending on their temperaments. Seen some spicy tortoiseshell cats during your recent cat cafe or shelter visits? Read all about "tortitude" in tortoiseshell cats here.   

two cats lying side by side

What Are the Rules at Cat Cafes?

If a cat cafe is run by someone who loves cats, chances are it will be set up with the best interest of every cat in mind. An ethical cat cafe will have a list of ground rules for guests to follow when interacting with the cats, and someone to supervise to ensure that everyone is treating the cats with respect.

Ultimately, there aren’t universal rules for how to run a cat cafe, so it is up to your discretion to decide if the one you hope to visit is ethical. Most cat cafes have the best interest of the cats in mind and are run by cat enthusiasts. Doing a bit of research on the business beforehand is a good way to determine if the cafe is a well-regulated, comfortable space for the resident cats.

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