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Caitlin (Kitty to her pals) plans Belfast's first cat cafe...the purr-fect way to enjoy cuppa

By Linda Stewart

Published 26/05/2016

Caitlin McClelland is seeking backers
Caitlin McClelland is seeking backers

Belfast could have its first cat cafe by this summer if a Kickstarter fundraising campaign is successful.

Feline fan Caitlin McClelland, also known as Kitty, is looking at locations in east or south Belfast.

She wants to raise £20,000 to open Belfast's most unusual coffee shop- Kittywinkles Cat Lounge - featuring "cats and coffee under one roof".

"It will offer a unique experience where customers can book a visit, order coffee, tea and snacks, and browse wi-fi while cats snooze, scurry and saunter around them," Caitlin said. "A cat lounge is a way for people to interact with cats in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

"There are a growing number of people who live in rented accommodation and apartments away from home who either aren't allowed cats, have a busy lifestyle or can't afford to have a pet. Kittywinkles provides the chance to spend some quality time with animals."

Kickstarter has already been used by Northern Ireland companies such as Brewbot and bike light firm See Sense to get their businesses up and running.

Originally from Glenavy in Co Antrim, Caitlin has lived in Belfast since she was 18 and worked in restaurants, bars and delis.

She first heard of cat cafes when she was reading an article about how the phenomenon was spreading across Asia.

Her interest was revived when Lady Dinah's opened in London after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Then Caitlin took part in a Prince's Trust Exploring Enterprise scheme in October.

"We had great people coming in to talk about opening your own business and that made it seem realistic," she said.

Caitlin has two cats - Biggy Smalls and Lil Kitty - and has been scouring animal shelters to research the kind of cats best suited to a cafe.

"I would be looking for adult cats, indoor cats, the most affectionate cats," she said.

"For example, Biggy Smalls is not affectionate; he loves a scratch but after about a minute he's had enough.

"They need to be laid-back, sociable cats. The cats in the lounge will have a quiet area, a human-free zone for anyone that wants to have a sleep."

Caitlin has been looking at locations in the Lisburn Road, Ormeau and Stranmillis areas.

She says if the cafe gets up and running she will probably be living close by, but the cats will live there permanently, with round-the-clock CCTV to make sure they are safe and well.

"I am considering live streaming to a website where I can monitor them as well. I would be there last thing at night and first thing in the morning," she said.

Anyone interested in finding out more can visit the website at or email

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