For months my Facebook feed has been full of updates about cat cafes. Two different crowd funding campaigns have been running at the same time with the aim of opening them in Groningen. Both campaigns reached their targets, and tonight the first cat cafe in Groningen (and the second in the Netherlands according to this site) opened its doors at Oude Ebbingestraat 57: Op z’n kop Groningen!
A cat cafe! you know one of those odd-ball places that you’ve heard exist in Japan! Those places hipsters are cueing hours to get into on Brick Lane! It’s right here, in our very own Groningen! It’s a perfect place to hang out and admire feline beauties who scowl at you because you’re enjoying your cake sitting in the comfy chair they had claimed ownership of. It’s a fantastic spot for being totally ignored by a series of furry creatures sticking it to you and cleaning their behinds on the floor, right there in front of you.
Really though, the cats in Op z’n kop are adorable. There are six of them, and they’re from a local cat asylum. They have all kinds of cleverly designed play things within the cafe, and their own room for when they get tired of humans stealing their spots on the sofas. They have plenty of food, and by the looks of things plenty of peace and admiring stares from crazy cat ladies like myself who have come in just to be in their glorious vicinity.
I guess most people have read reports showing that the presence of cats can be a positive influence on our general well-being (that is, unless you really hate cats, which has been known to be true for some individuals). The research on this issue is actually not as straight-forward as what us cat lovers would have you believe. Back in 1993 Straede & Gates found an effect of cat ownership on general psychological health but it was on a rather small sample of 160 participants. In 2005 this overview article called into question the methodological rigour of studies of psychological effects of pet companionship, stating that previous studies had in fact compared social groups that were simply too different from one another (people who own pets tend to come from a different social demographic than people who don’t own pets). Around the same time, however, studies started to mount up showing a clear physical effect of the presence of pets on the human body: being in the vicinity of a dog or a cat (and even a fish!) can reduce your heart rate and lower your blood pressure (see the research discussed at the beginning of this paper). By the way, did you know that there are universities around the globe taking advantage of this stress-reducing effect of pets by having students play with puppies (see video below)? Why is the University of Groningen not giving students their very own puppy space?
But I digress – why speak of puppies when there are kitties around. Go check Op z’n kop out the first chance you get. The owner, Hielkje, looked happy about her opening day in Groningen, and surprised at how busy she had been. I don’t know why she would be, there’s plenty of people around who are looking for a good ol’ cat scowl and a decent cup of coffee.
Op z’n kop has opened on Oude Ebbingestraat 57 in Groningen. You can read more about the cafe on their website opznkop.nl
Thu, 11 February