Coronavirus has caused an increase in people’s need for pets

“Pets play a huge role in literally saving a person during social isolation,” says Peter Pritchard, CEO of the British retail chain Pets at Home. According to the British Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) annual report, published in March 2021, 3.2 million Britons have acquired a cat, dog or other animal since the onset of the pandemic. Of these, 74% say that during isolation, the appearance of a new friend has become an effective psychological relief. The number of applications for shelters housing homeless animals has also risen sharply.

The cat is man’s best friend

It is curious at the same time that cats have proven to be more sought after. “Usually, about the same number of dogs and cats are adopted from shelters,” Cathy Bissell, founder and director of the Bissell Pet Foundation, an organization that provides animal shelter assistance across the United States, told Fox17. “However, during the pandemic, cats from shelters began to get more.”

As for Russia, it was a “cat” country even before the pandemic. According to the international research company Dalia Research, in 2017, our country ranked first in the world in terms of the share of cat owners (59%), significantly ahead of the United States (43%) and Argentina (41%). which follows. Since then, the preferences of our compatriots have not changed – they are still primarily in favor of cats. According to a recent survey by Sberbank Insurance, cat owners make up 55% of pet owners, while dog owners make up 37%.


cat owners picked up on the street

At the same time, unlike dogs, cats more often end up in Russian families not from pet shops and nurseries, but from the streets and shelters. According to the same survey, 32% of cat owners adopted them from the street and another 7% adopted a cat from a shelter. “At the beginning of the pandemic,” recalls Alexandra Gubankova, owner of the Kotissimo cat coffee chain, “when our cafe closed due to quarantine, we noticed an increase in adoptions. Before self-isolation, humans began to actively disassemble our cats. And even those who took cats only for overexposure, in the end decided not to leave them and keep them. “In October 2020, we opened a new cat café.”

“Temporarily homeless”

The cat cafe is also, in a sense, a haven for stray cats. However, not only that. People come who want to play with animals and, if possible, take one of them home. “Every cat has its own character and in this respect, the cat cafe has a great advantage over the shelters, since here you can communicate with the animal, to understand how you fit in,” says Gubankova. – Our cafe with cats opened in December 2016. Since then, we have managed to adopt 223 cats and cats. That is, on average, one animal per week.

Although the world’s first cat cafe, according to unconfirmed reports, appeared in Austria as early as 1912, there are still a few such facilities. And the first Russian institution of its kind was the St. Petersburg cafe “Republic of Cats”, which opened in 2011. There are four such facilities in Moscow today.

Both coffee shop staff and their guests must follow strict rules for communicating with cats and maintaining them. Before entering such a cafe, the animals, which are called “temporary homeless” here, spend several weeks in quarantine. During this period, they are examined by a veterinarian, vaccinated, sterilized, treated if necessary and only then “brought to light”. They stay in a cafe – and “greet the guests”. The rules of such meetings are also quite formal: even at the entrance, guests are asked not to take the initiative and not to try to take the cat in their arms by force, but to wait until it first appears. In addition, there are special rooms in the cat cafe where access is not allowed to visitors and where the animal can feel safe if for some reason becomes uncomfortable in the process of communicating with a person.

If one of the guests liked the cat and wants to take it home, the guest leaves a request. The applicant is then asked to complete a detailed questionnaire, after which they are called and sometimes they bring the animal home to see under what conditions it should live. “We give the cat to the family for free – and even with a premium food package for the first time. But the process of choosing a new owner is quite strict. “We want those who adopt our cat to understand that she is a future member of the family, not a thing or a toy, and they would take this step responsibly,” says Gubankova. – However, this usually happens, because most of the time our cats are taken by people who lack warm communication and tenderness. And then they send messages of gratitude – thank you for decorating our lives. It turns out that we do well for everyone – both cats and humans.

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