Lady Dinah’s recognises the potential for multiple cat households to cause stress to cats. However, with careful planning and design, we believe this can be mitigated when choosing cats.
Selection and colony raising
The proposition that cats are unsocial is somewhat of a generalisation. Under certain circumstances, cats can naturally form functional and generally peaceful colonies.
Anecdotal evidence and thousands of years of co-evolution also suggests that cats are not entirely disinterested in human company, particularly if socialised within the appropriate time frame early in life (4-8 weeks).
Lady Dinah’s is committed to creating an environment that improves the chances of sociability with humans and the formation of preferred conspecific relationships, communal nesting, grooming and guarding within the cat group.
We also acknowledge that we can not control animal behaviour and will never seek to, this goes against our ethos. We do not enforce or demand anything of our cats, we can only provide the best environment possible to support them creating their own peaceful social structure and engaging in mutually affectionate and beneficial relationships with humans in the cafe.
ref: Cat Behaviour:Social Organisation, Communication and Development, Sharon L Cromwell-Davis
We want to create an environment that provides the factors identified by Ms Cromwell-Davis as conducive to the natural emergence of friendly colony behaviour.
Our animals will be selected from family groups, at a young age, and raised together within the cat cafe environment, with a preference for female colony members.
Our animals will be assessed by an animal behaviourist before selection to verify that their temperament is suitable for communal living and social engagement with humans. Animals that demonstrate a preference for solitary living or show traits of timidity or aggression (amongst other traits) will not be selected for the cat cafe. This will also be done with the involvement of their primary carer to date, who can advise of previous history.
Kittens who have not had any social contact and are older than 8 weeks old will not be selected, as they may not be adequately socialised for cafe life.
Cats should be socialised with each other prior to selection, however, they will need to establish their social structure within their new environment. 2 weeks of public-free time is scheduled to allow them to establish territories and hierarchies within the group.
Our Emporium Earlybirds crowdfunding perk allows small groups of people to come into the cafe before we open to the public. Their role will be to help socialise the cats, starting with small groups and gradually increasing to the full group.
In addition, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is investing in creating our own “Sounds Sociable” CDs, which can be played to the cats to help inure them to the sounds of an operational cafe next door.
c) Monitoring and training of staff
It is expected that there will be some, natural conflict, even within a happy group, much like with humans: sometimes we have bad days. However, it is necessary to monitor spats and altercations between cats- even after choosing cats- to ensure that it is possible to quickly identify any undesirable patterns of behaviour emerging between any two or more cats. With different staff on shift at different times, a diary system is necessary.
Cat Carer staff are responsible for all aspects of cat care and must complete a thrice-daily assessment of each cat’s health, behaviour with people and other cats, toilet habits, eating habits etc. This data is stored on the cloud and can be used to generate reports on the cat’s health over time.
In addition, each cat will have a 3-monthly vet health check for symptoms of chronic stress fleas, worms, weight and all-round general check-up.
Staff will be trained by our dedicated vet and other experts as they are available to identify symptoms of stress or chronic pain, as well as how to perform basic first aid for animals.
d) Abundance and appropriateness of resources
Resources of value to cats are provided:
- In accordance with FAB Cats Cattery Construction standards
- enough to satisfy requirements for 16 individual cats in a cattery environment, although we intend only to house 10.
- distributed throughout the cafe, and all resources are available under the following conditions:
- within cat-only areas
- indoors and outdoors
- in free-roaming areas with people
- Litter trays are provided outdoors, and behind hygienic foyers indoors, as with human toilet facilities. Cats will use igloo cat toilets, with filtered ventilation to prevent odours. these also allow hygienic and odour-free transport of used litter trays to the cat care room, where they can be cleaned. A suitable odour-controlling litter will also be used.
Resources that we have identified as needing to be supplied in abundance:
- food sources
- water sources (still and running)
- vantage points
- entry and exit points
- litter trays
- outdoor spaces
- Cat grass
- scratching posts
- warm places