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London cat cafe set to open this month

Java Whiskers cat cafe is set to make its debut on 31 October, six months after its original launch plans had to be shelved due to the pandemic.

Occupying former offices in Great Portland Street, Fitzrovia Marylebone, the venue will entice cat lovers with its winning formula of food and feline ‘therapy,’ something the owners say is needed more than ever.

Behind the concept are three friends from southern Sweden who enjoyed huge success with the launch of their country’s first ever cat cafe last year. Jon Bäcklund, Tobias Larsson and Joakim Wessman are also the team behind successful Swedish trampoline park chain, Yoump.

Larsson said, “We wanted to find a business that is doing something good. We want to create a great environment for both the cats and humans that is calm and comfortable but also very healing. The café has two primary objectives: to improve the mental health and wellbeing of its visitors and to reduce the rate of cat homelessness.

“It´s been very challenging due to the unpredictability the pandemic has brought upon us and the public. However, these challenges have made us more determined to stick to our original plans and open our café to offer a bit of positivity to London in the midst of the crisis.

“We do feel our unique concept of service will be of even greater importance now. The holistic mental wellbeing benefits of spending time with cats has been widely documented. So we are delighted we can offer this service to our guests very soon.

“And we’ve gone above and beyond to make our cafe COVID-friendly and taken every possible safety measure to give you that peace of mind when you visit us!”

Java Whiskers will foster a maximum of nine kitties at any one time, from The Scratching Post Cat Rescue shelter in Waltham Abbey, until suitable new forever homes can be found among its customers.

Larsson said, 'We are very happy and proud of the difference we have made for homeless cats in Sweden and also how much our visitors love our concept so we are super excited to be opening in the UK now.”

Customers to Java Whiskers will be asked to book a time slot ahead of their visit. The café design includes elevated shelves and walkways as well as plenty of ‘escape spaces’ for the animals. And the cats’ welfare is paramount with a set of important guest rules, including no running, keeping noise to a low level and no picking up the resident kitties, feeding them or waking them when they’re asleep.

Children under 10 will not be permitted and it’s strictly shoes off and hands washed upon entering.

The top level of the two-storey 2,000 sq ft unit will be dedicated to providing a premium customer experience, including a menu of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, pastries and salads, while downstairs the cats are afforded plenty of private space.

It’s the first of a series of cat cafes being launched in the UK by the entrepreneurs who are already eyeing up plans for more in the future.