Cats and coffee under one roof, Northern Ireland’s first cat café is expected to open in Belfast this summer!
Kittywinkles is hoping it will become one of the newest niche businesses in Belfast.
It will offer a unique experience where customers can book a visit, order coffee, tea and snacks, and browse wi-fi while cats snooze, scurry and saunter around them.
Cat cafés have been a phenomenon in Asia for decades but they didn’t hit the UK until Lady Dinah’s opened in London in 2013 after a successful crowdfunding campaign of its own. There are now 9 cat cafés in the UK (yes, really!)
Founder of Kittywinkles Cat Lounge, Caitlin McClelland from South Belfast, explained to us: “A cat lounge is a way for people to interact with cats in a relaxed and comfortable environment.
“There are a growing number of people who live in rented accommodation and apartments away from home who either aren’t allowed cats, have a busy lifestyle or can’t afford to have a pet. Kittywinkles provides the chance to spend some quality time with animals.”
We reckon Kittywinkles definitely sounds like the ideal compromise! But where exactly does Caitlin see a Cat Cafe fitting into in Belfast?
“Location-wise there are so many possibilities, I feel like Kittywinkles can fit in well all over Belfast. It needs to be accessible to all of Northern Ireland and not too noisy or bustling. I’ve viewed properties on Lisburn Road, Ormeau and Stranmillis – all of which I could envision being great spaces. I’m keeping an open mind because the chosen space will be wherever the cats can be happiest.”
“The cats will be rescues, indoor cats that enjoy feline and human company. I’ve been in contact with a few NI shelters about adoption and long-term fostering plans. Most other cat cafes have rescues who settle into the space together and all have different personalities and back stories, which I love.”
“I’d heard of cat cafes popping up in Asia and other parts of the world and thought it was an amazing idea, maybe someday Belfast would have one!
“Then Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium opened in London and all of a sudden cat cafes existed in the UK. I started planning Kittywinkles Cat Lounge last year and visited Lady Dinah’s in March which was a lot of fun and made Kittywinkles feel very real.”
Kittywinkles will open in Belfast this summer if it successfully meets its goal of £20,000 by June 24, offering exclusive rewards to project backers, like early access to the lounge or the chance to name one of its resident cats.
It is raising funds via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, used by Northern Ireland companies such as Brewbot and bike light firm See Sense to get their businesses up and running.
Caitlin added: “The cat cafe all depends on us reaching our funding goal on Kickstarter. There have been several fantastic Kickstarter success stories for Northern Ireland and Kittywinkles could be another one.
“We have rewards for people who support us – our backers. You can choose what you want from Kittywinkles – kitten mittens, tea-for-two, a private party with the lounge cats, there’s loads!
“The cool thing about Kickstarter is that if we fall short of the funding, your pledge doesn’t leave your account, there’s no risk there. And if we’re successful you have an exclusive piece of Kittywinkles!”
Check out the official Kickstarter page to find out more at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kittywinkles/kittywinkles-cat-lounge.