The Dubai Cat Cafe hopes to find purr-fect new homes for rescued cats


In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a worker feeds a cat at the Ailuromania Cat Cafe, where customers can relax among purring felines or adopt a stray cat.

  • The cafe's first customers were stray cats that the family had taken in over the years.
     Now, Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah in the hopes of increasing adoptions.

DUBAI: A cat cafe in Dubai serves as both a haven for humans seeking furry feline companionship and an adoption center for some of the UAE's many stray cats.

The Ailuromania Cat Cafe, which opened in 2015 as the Middle East's first cat cafe, hopes that the relaxing properties of its 25 rescue and shelter cats will aid in their adoption.

“If you're stressed, all you have to do is find a cat. All your stress will vanish,” said Omnia Fareed, whose two cat-loving sisters Allaa and Iman founded the cafe after graduating from university, drawing inspiration from similar businesses in Korea and London.

The cafe's first customers were stray animals that the family had taken in over the years.

In order to increase adoptions, Ailuromania now hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah.

Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word ailurophile, which means cat lover.
Regular customers come to the cafe to unwind from their daily stresses or because they can't keep a cat at home.

“They're so cute, and they love to play,” said Shaasthra, a visitor. She praised the cafe's commitment to the cats' welfare, which includes a policy prohibiting people from holding or waking them up.

Another frequent visitor was a street cat who would peer in through the window and was eventually adopted.

The cafe reopened with capacity and sanitization restrictions after Dubai lifted coronavirus lockdown measures last summer.

The city of Dubai has a large number of stray cats, with many of their owners abandoning them on the streets. Although UAE authorities made it illegal to abandon animals in 2018, animal welfare activists in Dubai have long advocated for a large-scale trap-neuter-release program and feeding programs to humanely reduce the population.

In August, the municipality of Dubai released a circular reiterating a policy of fining anyone caught feeding stray animals, claiming that it promotes disease spread.