Leeds Kitty Cafe: please protect your cats

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This petition is concerning the welfare of the cats at Leeds Kitty Cafe, which houses vulnerable cats in need of adoption:

Leeds Kitty Cafe

During a visit to the cafe in June 2018, which markets itself as a business that 'keeps felines in mind', the cats were unfortunately witnessed as visibly distressed and overwhelmed. This has caused concerns for the animals housed at the establishment. 

Many of the cats were being chased by unaccompanied children and the cafe was overcrowded and loud. Many adult customers were also partaking in flash photography which is against the Kitty Cafe House Rules. When staff were made aware of these issues, they did not intervene, and therefore did not adhere to their own rules which state that any harmful behaviour will result in customers being asked to leave the premises.

The environment was therefore uncontrolled and detrimental to the animals, and focused on visitors rather than creating a calm environment for cats who are there because they are in need of adoption. 

Even with the structure of elevated paths circulating the cafe with exit holes to the cattery, some of the cats were confused and running away from visitors who were trying to grab them. Most of the younger cats and kittens were not able to climb to the elevated paths and were hiding under chairs.

There was no restriction on age or number of young children allowed into the space at any time, which caused a lack of control and for the animals to be overly petted and pulled. These conditions leave the animals in an insecure position, exposing them to irreversible trauma from being in a high-intensity environment. It is therefore counter-productive to present as a site of cat adoption if the animals are stressed and frightened.

We therefore want to urge Kitty Cafe to immediately review their animal welfare policies. Some of the suggestions we have put forward are:

  • Review/limit the number of children in the cafe at one time, to avoid chaos and distress to animals.
  • Review child age restrictions to 10+ (as does Manchester Kitty Cafe), and ensure parents are aware of their responsibility to their child's behaviour. 
  • Ensure that before entering the cafe customers are verbally informed of the House Rules by a member of staff.
  • When booking online, formulate a small quiz or guidelines on how to treat the animals which must be read before booking is completed.  
  • Staff must intervene when cats are being overly petted as is stated in the existing House Rules.
  • Review the ‘find the cat’ activity given to children as they enter which actually encourages them to chase the cats. Instead replace it with an information sheet about the cats and how to adopt.

We urge Leeds Kitty cafe to be accountable for the welfare of these animals and conduct their business in a way that encourages the public to adopt an empathetic approach rather than commodify cats for profit. 

Thank you.