'Cat Cafe' Will Be London's First

Image credit: Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images

Japan's popular cat cafe concept - where patrons pay by the hour to pet cats and have a soda - is coming west. London is expected to welcome its first cat cafe soon.

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is the brainchild of Lauren Pears, an Australian who raised £109,510 ($140,000) through crowd funding, according to her blog. In a fundraising video, Pears said a cat cafe is "just like a regular cafe. It sells coffee, tea, cakes and snacks. The only difference is that it is full of cats."

She said conditions that make it difficult to own a cat in Tokyo also exist in London: Congested living, long working hours and landlords that don't allow pets all factor in to the cat cafes' success in Asia. Japan is home to a reported 160 cat cafes.

The cats who come to live at the London cat cafe will come from shelters, including the Mayhew Animal Home. "Many cats will soon be adopted and spend their lives in the lap of luxury," Pears wrote on her blog. "And many Londoners and visitors will soon be relaxing with a mug of hot beverage of choice and a bundle of purring joy."

Most of the cats found in Japan's cat cafe's are pure breeds, according to Pears, but as for the decision of Lady Dinah's to use shelter cats, Pears writes "we see no distinction between a purebred and a stray mog. Love is love, cat is cat, and we love them all."

The cat cafe concept seems to be spreading. One opened in Vienna last year. There's also a cat cafe in St. Petersburg.

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium hasn't found a home yet, but a May opening is the goal.