Source:  IOM Today (Extract)
Posted:  June 4, 2021

The Isle of Man now has its first cat café.

The concept of the cafe originates from Taiwan and is already popular in the UK and around the world. But the island’s new cat cafe has its own unique twist: all the cats there are registered Manxies. Hence the name: it is the Manx Cat Cafe.

’I love cats,’ says the owner of the cafe, Zoe Grundey, a trained veterinary nurse, who also owns and breeds Manx cats. All the eight cats that visit the cafe are hers and live together so they all get on.

The idea of opening a cat cafe came from Zoe’s mum who had come across one in Liverpool. Zoe looked into it and did some research and decided it might be a good idea.

Cat cafés provide a service for people who love cats to come and interact with them. At the Manx Cat Cafe you pay £7 for a one-hour session which is intended to provide a calm and relaxing experience, whether or not one of the cats grants you a cuddle.

There are high shelves all around the cafe which the cats prowl along, gazing down at you as they decide whether or not you merit them popping down for a closer look at. Oh and you can also have a cup of coffee and piece of cake, read a book, and wear your comfiest slippers to help you chill.

There will be up to five of Zoe’s cats in the cafe at any one time and she reckons the real stars will be Cassey, a red tabby female, ’mischevious and very sassy’; Darby, a classic brown tabby female, the youngest of the group, and Isy, a black long-haired cat who loves a cuddle.

But there is also a more serious side to the business as Zoe explains: ’When I got into the cat breeding I realised that the numbers had declined in Manx cats.’

She wants to spread the word about them and give more people the chance to see them and learn about them. This obviously means that the cafe also has potential to be a popular tourist destination when visitors can return. The declining numbers of Manx cats means it is becoming increasingly difficult for visitors to spot one.

Zoe says: ’We do homestay for TT and we had a couple staying and the woman said: “We have been coming to the island for 10 years and this is the first time we have seen a Manx cat”.’

There are a few house rules: you can’t bring your own cat along with you – and you certainly can’t bring your dog – and children under 12 are not allowed because of the aim of making it a relaxing environment.

And you mustn’t necessarily expect to get a cuddle: as always with cats, you have to take what you are given.

But, as Zoe says, it will still allow people to learn a bit more about Manxies: ’Even if you don’t interact with them; they might stay on the cat trees or the shelves and they might not necessarily come down and sit on your knee, or they might do – cats are cats and they do what they want to.

’But at least if you don’t get a one-to-one with a cat you’re taking something away whether it’s a bit of information about the Manx cats, where they come from, how to breed them, health issues – that’s what we’re here for as well.’

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