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Feature April 2013 Issue

Short Takes

Coffee with Extra Milk, Please?

A number of lucky shelter cats will soon be sharing afternoon tea with Londoners needy of feline affection. Lauren Pears — a video game executive originally from Brisbane — plans to open Britain’s first cat cafe this spring after raising more than $161,570 (£109,000) through a fund-raising website.

Called “Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium,” the café is modeled after Tokyo’s popular cat cafes, and is set to open on Old Street, in East London. Miss Pears, 30, went on a search for “professional staff cats,” seeking from a local animal shelter between 10 to 15 sociable cats. She also plans to foster needy felines at the café until they find their forever homes.

Lady Dinah’s will offer customers the chance to spend time with a cat while sipping a coffee and eating vegetarian and vegan food. The café will be open six days a week, 12 hours a day and seat up to 50 people. “A cat cafe has the potential to create social situations that you wouldn’t otherwise experience,” explains Miss Pears. “You could have two strangers who’ll talk to each other in a cafe setting because there’s a cat in between them.”

With many landlords nowadays unwilling to allow tenants to live with pets in rented accommodations — coupled with the increasing costs in pet ownership – Ms. Pears felt that there was a gap in the market for people who needed their “cat fix.”

Lady Dinah’s — named after Alice’s cat in Alice in Wonderland — will offer lots of “high rest” places for the cats, and litter trays located in a separate room. Ms. Pears will utilize a volunteer program to make sure the cats are properly cared for, and she stressed that patrons will be discouraged from picking up the cats.

The tradition of cat cafes originated in Japan, where there are almost 40 established cafes — popular with apartment dwellers who are not allowed, or do not have the room, to keep a cat. Cafes also exist in Hong Kong, Vienna, Taiwan, Seoul, St. Petersburg and in Sudbury, Canada. Additionally, a few rabbit cafes have sprung up in Japan.

Ms. Pears says that she is being approached with requests to start a second coffee house in either Brighton or Edinburgh.

Pass Go: The Cat Wins!

After allowing fans to determine which of the eight classic Monopoly game tokens to replace, Hasbro announced it will retire the iron token in favor of a new one: the cat.

Monopoly fans from 120 countries participated in the vote, which was conducted online. They argued the case for certain favorites — either to adopt new ones, or to save old ones at risk of being retired.

The new token choices included the (winning) cat, robot, guitar, diamond ring and helicopter — while the old-school tokens that were vulnerable were the (losing) iron, shoe and wheelbarrow.

The niece of Monopoly creator, Charles Darrow, first gave him the idea to use charms from her bracelet as tokens. Parker Brothers acquired the game from the designer in 1935, and introduced most of the classic tokens that year. (The Scottie Dog and wheelbarrow were added in the 1950s.)

Of the new tokens, the cat received 31 percent of votes. The new token will be unveiled with the game later this year.

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