Look what a new cat cafe in Melbourne has dragged in: a policy that bans children under eight years of age.
Opening in Melbourne’s CBD later this month, Australia’s first cat cafe, has surprised patrons with a new rule that refuses entry to young children.
Making the announcement on their Facebook page on Tuesday, owners Anita and Myles Loughran said: “We have placed an age limit of eight years and over only. This age limit is to ensure the safety of our cats as well as babies and young children.”
Ms Loughran, who was inspired to open the cafe after visiting a cat cafe in Japan, said initial plans to allow children in the cafe were overturned after a recent visit by their friends and children.
During the visit, Ms Loughran realised it was too difficult to ensure the safety of both children and animals when a large number of children were playing with the 11 cats and kittens at the same time.
“The staff aren't here to babysit and teach kids how to interact with animals - that’s up to the parents to do,” she said.
“This is one of those situations where we just can’t please everyone.”
The post sparked a heated exchange between cat lovers divided by the new rule on the nascent cafe's Facebook page.
One upset parent said she had promised her children an outing to the new cafe and would now have to “break their little hearts”. Others were more light-hearted. One parent claimed they would organise a fake ID for their child.
Fierce cat lovers defended the new policy, arguing that the safety of the cats should be the owners' priority and parents would just have to learn to say "no" to their spoiled children.
The first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998. Other feline-friendly venues have followed in parts of Asia and throughout Europe. They are particularly popular in Japan, where the cafes allow patrons to watch and play with the pets for small cover charge.