• France's news in English
 

Animal rights groups slam Paris 'cat café' plan

Published: 17 Jun 2013 17:55 GMT+02:00

Margaux Gandelon is the 26-year-old Parisian cat lover hoping to bring the ‘bar à chats’ (cat café) concept to France as early as September, but her project has met opposition from a few different quarters.

The cat café craze, which started in Taiwan and became popular in Japan, involves clients paying a fee to play with, watch and pet feline friends, for a certain amount of time.

“This will be a friendly and calm place. Customers will be able to caress the animals while having a cup of tea or a coffee,” Gandelon told AFP.

However, the plan has drawn opposition from some French animal rights activists, among Christophe Marie from the Bardot Foundation in Paris.

“I don’t really appreciate the animal being relegated  to the status of an object,” he told AFP.

“What really makes me uncomfortable about this initiative is that the animal would be reduced to being a teddy bear.”

“Cats don’t have a particularly strong desire to be petted by the customers of a café,” he added, noting that he hoped there wouldn’t be more such establishments in the future.

For Reha Hutin president of the ’30 million friends foundation’, the concern was more a question of “what will these cats get up to, and in what sorts of conditions, outside opening hours?”

For her part, Gandelon acknowledged the concerns of critics, but vowed that the cats' will be respected at all times.

"They will only get petted if they so desire. It won't be like in Japan, where you reserve the use of a cat to cuddle for an hour," she assured AFP.

Despite the opposition, Gandelon’s concept has its supporters as well.

Jean-Yves Gauchet, a vet in the south-western city of Toulouse, sees no harm to the cats, and a significant function in filling a relaxing space with furry companions.

“The cat is an eternal baby. It loves being cuddled, and only wants to play. Also, they can fill an emotional gap for some people who don’t have children,” he said, adding that cats were like “medication without any side effects.”

Claire Bentolila, who studies animal behaviour, agrees.

“A cat is a stress-fighter. It brings down blood pressure, and keeps us focused on the here and now. If people respect their independent nature, and let them walk away when they want to, everything should go fine,” she said.

Gandelon says she has already obtained the permits and raised the €40,000 she needs to open up France’s very first cat café in the Marais neighbourhood of Paris in September.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Nepal Earthquake
Hundreds of French still missing in Nepal
Survivors of the Nepal earthquake sit in the street in front of their destroyed homes. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of French still missing in Nepal

As the death toll from the devastating Nepal earthquake rises beyond 3,200, authorities in Paris said on Monday they are still trying to make contact with nearly 700 French nationals believed to have been in the country at the time of the disaster. READ  

France and Australia condemn death penalty

France and Australia condemn death penalty

French president François Hollande and Australia's PM Tony Abbott sent a message to Jakarta on Monday morning as the leaders jointly condemned the death penalty. Indonesia is preparing to execute several drug traffickers including French and Australian nationals. READ  

Strasbourg will remain EU capital, France vows
Members of the European Parliament are forced to decamp every month from Brussels to Strasbourg for voting sessions. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

Strasbourg will remain EU capital, France vows

France would never allow Strasbourg to be stripped of its status as a European capital, President Francois Hollande said on Sunday, despite the huge cost of shuttling EU politicians there from Brussels each month. READ  

Ligue 1 Round-up
Lyon peg back PSG in Ligue 1 title fight
Lyon players celebrate a goal in their victory over Reims that puts them back on top of Ligue 1. Photo: AFP

Lyon peg back PSG in Ligue 1 title fight

Lyon were back on top of Ligue 1 on Sunday after a convincing win over Reims, meaning the club are level on points with PSG, who put Lille to the sword on Saturday. Here's a round-up of weekend the action from Ligue 1. READ  

IN PICTURES
France's prehistoric Chauvet cave opens
The replica of the Chauvet cave at Pont d'Arc is to open its doors. Photo: AFP

France's prehistoric Chauvet cave opens

A stunning replica of the 36,000 year-old Grotte Chauvet, home to the oldest figurative cave drawings in the world and an Unesco Heritage site, opened to the public at the weekend. Here's a look inside the country's latest tourist attraction. READ  

No Euro hangover as PSG hit Lille for six
Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

No Euro hangover as PSG hit Lille for six

Paris Saint-Germain quickly got back on track after their Champions League loss to Barcelona as Ezequiel Lavezzi netted a hat-trick in a resounding 6-1 win over Lille at the Parc des Princes on Saturday. READ  

French tip leads to massive UK cocaine haul
Photo: Abby Gadd/MOD

French tip leads to massive UK cocaine haul

Over two tonnes of cocaine were seized off the coast of Scotland on Sunday in an operation involving French and British officials. READ  

French icon Juliette Greco begins final tour
Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP

French icon Juliette Greco begins final tour

As she embarks on the last tour of a more than six-decade career that began in post-war Paris, iconic French singer Juliette Greco had some parting advice for young performers: "Learn to say no." READ  

France opens probe into Qatar forced labour
Vinci and its QDVC subsidiary are facing a suit alleging forced labour in Qatar. Photo: AFP

France opens probe into Qatar forced labour

French prosecutors said Saturday they had opened a preliminary probe into a lobby group's claims that construction giant Vinci is using forced labour on building projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. READ  

Foiled Paris Church Attack
Thwarted French jihadist faces terror charges
The suspect is still being treated in a hospital in Paris. Photo: AFP

Thwarted French jihadist faces terror charges

An Algerian jihadist sympathiser arrested in connection with a thwarted attack on a church in France was charged with terror-related murder Friday after five days of police questioning. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Take a peek inside France's newest, but oldest tourist attraction
National
How to disguise the fact you are clearly not French
France desperately hunts for church terror plot accomplices
Can France really protect 4,500 churches around the country?
WARNING - When in France use first names with caution
So what does the world's oldest bubbly taste like?
British expats left in lurch by NHS clampdown
Tossing cigarette butts in Paris to prompt €68 fines
Culture
Cannes Film Festival reveals jury
Flamanville: France's nuclear 'calamity' that has the UK worried
Features
Forget the Mona Lisa, here's the weirdest objects you can see around Paris
For many Britons 'Waterloo' is just an Abba song or a train station
IN PICTURES: See the French ship 'Hermione' set sail again for the US
Opinion
Is it time the French scrapped tu and vous?
National
Sexual harassment rife on Paris trains
National
Marine Le Pen makes Time 'most influential' list
Cannes Film Festival line-up revealed
National
Cartoonist's book slams 'Islamophobia swindlers'
National
More French women than men lured by Isis
Society
Les Entrepreneurs: We chat with the founder of Paris Picnic
National
Edith Piaf celebrated at Parisian exhibit
How the health reforms will change life in France
Gallery
Naked protests: The French love to take their clothes off to make a point
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Then and now - the site of the Alps plane crash
Travel
So why would anyone really want to live in Lille?
Opinion
Why the French should be very worried about new spying powers
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
Did a row over stolen veg lead to the murder of a British expat in France?
VIDEO: French rail chiefs SNCF furious after the Paris-Roubaix race
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
Culture
IN PICS: Take a look inside France's new 36,000 year-old tourist site
International
Did the Pope reject France's envoy to the Vatican because he was gay?
Cyberjihad: Hacking of French TV channel was 'a step up'
Politics
PROFILE: Jean-Marie Le Pen - France's far-right master provocateur
National
France's fatigued 'anti-terror' police resort to calling sick
National
Dipping baguette in a bowl of coffee! - French habits foreigners don't get
Strike latest: Scores of flights cancelled in France
Features
New Calais migrant camp 'the worst in Europe'
Society
ASK THE EXPERTS: So why are the French always on strike?
National
French air traffic control strike: Tourists face travel chaos
Culture
Which stars will land an invite to the Cannes Film Festival?
Technology
Paris holds film festival for blind cinema goers
National
Paris wants to triple its number of cyclists by 2020
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se