In the past couple of years, the Japanese trend of cat cafes has spread UK wide.
With the first one of its kind due to open in the heart of Glasgow city centre, locals are excited at the prospect of visiting their feline friends.
“When I heard that there was such a thing as a cat café, I knew I had to do it. I don’t know how, but I have to. I love cats, I’m just a crazy cat person.” said Tracey Malcolmson, 31, owner of the Purrple Cat Cafe.
Tracey has helped start up a lot of businesses in the past alongside her full time position in the NHS, and even opened up her own deli three years ago.
“I brought some staff in and then sold it on. I did it all myself and it was a bit of a learning curve. Everything I’ve done, I’ve just jumped in and said ‘right let’s see what happens.'”
However, Tracey wants to do more than just open another cat cafe. “On social media it’s all about the cats and pushing the brand. But my sort of sneaky and insidious idea is to create community where people come and they feel comfortable.”
Tracey also works as a Union rep and a welfare officer. She knows all to well the detrimental effects mental health can have so hopes that the cafe can provide an escape for those in need of support.
“It doesn’t always have to be mental health focused, but that’s my passion.”
Tracey hopes to introduce activities such as crochet and mindfulness sessions in quiet afternoon groups at the cafe.
The vast 3000 square ft venue is currently under renovation from a former Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Merchant City.
Space was a huge requirement in choosing the venue for the cats to be able to roam freely without interruptions.
“It took me about a year just to get a place that suits and fits and it works how I want it to work. I decided that if I’m going to make the place big, I’m not necessarily going to fill it with more cats.”
But, she is quick to stress that the cat’s welfare will always come first. ” I decided that this is going to be a cat sanctuary, not a petting zoo.”
Tracey works closely with cat rehoming charity Catflap based in Glasgow’s Southside.
Most of her cats are rescue cats who weren’t used to much human contact and were often left alone for hours on end.
Because of this, Tracey knows they must be allowed their own space and loving care.
“Don’t be offended if our guys ask you to give certain cats a bit of peace and quiet. If the cats are comfortable and happy and want someone to come up and interact with them, that’s great. You probably won’t touch a cat on every visit, it’s just not what this place will be about.”
The cats currently live in a rented accommodation separate from Tracey’s home, where they are constantly showered with attention from her whole family including their “Cat Grandma”, Tracey’s mum.
Despite being a huge cat fan, Tracey herself admits she is actually allergic to cats.
“I go in to the house where I keep my cats every single day and do pretty much nothing but hoovering. So you can go in if you have an allergy because I have terrible asthma too.”
She hopes the cafe will be fit and renovated for opening in August. The cats and kittens will be introduced to the venue a few weeks prior to visitors to ensure they are settled in.
Tracey states that her number one priority will always be the care of others and their welfare.
“I think you can make money and be a profitable business at the same time as helping the animals and the people.”
You can visit the Purrple Cat Cafe on Facebook here.
*Cat images given & used with owners permission.