Whether you’re a cat fan or simply curious about the concept of a dedicated cat café, Pause in the centre of Bournemouth is ready and waiting with a warm (and purry) welcome!
From just a peek through the front window you can appreciate the balance of power in the place, with countless cosy nooks where the café’s seven (soon to be twelve) furry residents might easily cuddle down. Take a closer look and you may catch sight of friendly black moggy Bear making off with a freshly captured piece of rope or Clifford scampering enthusiastically after a laser light.
You step into the venue and you’re greeted by a staff member quick to advise you of the house rules when it comes to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of their main attractions. These mainly cover behaviour towards the cats – don’t offer them food, don’t alarm or chase them etc and other things to bear in mind like it’s only the staff in grey tops who handle the cats while the ones in grey only handle the food and drink.
So, if you want help removing the dozy weight who’s taken a shine to your lap, flag down someone in white while if you want to order another lip-smacking pina-cat-lada (coconut water, pineapple juice, lime) juice be sure to ask a team member in grey!
Clean and cosy
The café décor is fresh and comfortable, clutter free yet cosy for its famous residents to settle down. There’s a full-on cat wheel (think hamsters!) where some of the more energetic kitties might head for as well as snuggly couches where a more textbook moggy will likely make a beeline! If you’re worried about cleanliness, aside from different staff members being solely designated ‘cat’ or ‘food’, most of the food preparation is done by local suppliers off-site with just the final touches made in the café behind two human-only doors. The drinks are prepared in a separate bar area behind an airlock designed to keep the cats safe and in the café. Fresh air is constantly filtered through the building and the public are not permitted in the cat bedrooms where their food and litter trays are kept.
The café upstairs has space for 31 covers in a variety of tables to seat parties of one up to six people. They do take drop-ins but to make sure there’s room it’s best to reserve your table on the website. You pay £5 per person per hour to cover the welfare and care of the cats and this charge secures your place in one of the most anticipated venues to crop up in town this year. And the first of its kind to arrive anywhere along the south coast.
The café menu reflects their mission to eat ‘kindly’ and as such the food is healthy, vegetarian and vegan, locally sourced, sustainable and most importantly, delicious! If you’re here over lunch you might opt for a jacket potato, bagel, roll or wrap, a locally-sourced cheeseboard or perhaps the soup of the day. If you find your tea or coffee’s a bit wet, plump for a naughty slice of cake – carrot, chocolate, apple or perhaps coffee and walnut.
The animals are free to roam while you make yourself at home. But, cats being cats, they’ll do their own thing! So, lose yourself in your coffee and cake or sit and enjoy the peaceful ambience and you’ll soon have a curious character circling your feet. If you’ve had your fill and really must dash, remember to signal to a team member in white who will free your lap of its friendly bundle if you’re the chosen one (most likely to be the one day you’re in a rush!)
The cats have their own private quarters where they live and can retreat if they’ve had enough fuss for a while. The two gorgeous ginger toms Pumpkin and Max live upstairs with playful Petrus, a cheeky tortie who doesn’t look (or act) anything like his years.
They each have their own magnet-operated quarters where they can let themselves in and enjoy their own bed, food and litter tray without risk of any interference from another café moggy. Some of the animals like Clifford, Bear and Liquorice were rescued together while others were found to have the ideal temperament for endless fuss and public attention and joined the family on their own after being made or found homeless.
If you’re lucky enough to go ‘behind the scenes’ down the scratching post stairs (yes, the bannisters are bound in claw-twitchingly tempting sisal for the cats to stretch and pull on their way up or down! There is a very large open space where the café has plans to expand and then another room with kitty dorms. This is the roost of the friendly black cats Liquorice, Clifford and Bear as well as stately newcomer Auntie Anne.
The cats at Pause are permanent residents, taken in and given a home when they didn’t have one. To give them a constant and stable setting – perhaps the only one they’ve ever known – the lucky dozen will be permanent residents of the café, unless they show signs of not enjoying the companionship and attention of the customers and their furry flatmates.
Making a difference
The team at Pause will be working closely with cat rescue charities where they can put people in touch with prospective pets and even source new animals to live in the café’s cosy cat quarters. All in all, cat lovers who for whatever reason can’t have their own pets, those who can’t go a day without some feline attention or someone looking for a distinctively different backdrop for their daily catta-cino or hot choco-cat will always find a warm (and fuzzy) welcome at Pause.