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​Humane Society Removes Cats from Canadian Cat Café Amid Abuse Allegations

An anonymous former employee claims that the cats were mistreated, stressed, and malnourished.

by Jake Kivanc
May 9 2016, 7:02pm

Cat cafés are a hit with humans, but how do the cats feel? Photo via Flickr user MsSaraKelly

Read: I Went to Montreal's New Cat Café, on Shrooms

Toronto's only cat café, the TOT Cat Café, is down to just a few felines after the city's humane society removed some of the cats amid allegations from an anonymous employee claiming that cats were mistreated by the business.

The Toronto Humane Society (THS), which had given the café five of its seven cats on a charitable basis, took the cats back last week over a concern that the facility was "not aligning" with the values of THS as a nonprofit organization.

According to THS Executive Director Barbara Steinhoff, the humane society was specifically bothered by the café charging a fee to see the cats in a separate room—something that Steinhoff told VICE was not true to the humane society's intention when placing the cats there.

This news comes after a post by an alleged former employee—originally found on a Bunz Trading Zone pet page before being taken down and re-shared anonymously—that accused the TOT Cat Café of mistreating and abusing its cats.

"Over the past few months it has become apparent to me that the cafe's owners do not care about cats. They constantly forget to feed them, or give them water, or properly monitor their health," the post reads. "I have had enough. I can't keep doing this. It has taken a huge toll on my health. SO yesterday, I reported them to The Toronto Humane Society and all of the cats were removed."

THS declined to comment on the post and said that the main reason it removed the cats was due to the surcharge to access them. Kenneth Chai, owner of the café, told VICE that the post was "just a rumor" and that the café is aware of the employee who posted it. Chai said that the café has not mistreated its animals in any way.

"The cats are great," he told VICE. "There is nothing we can do about the rumor that has been started."

Chai says that the cats are well fed and that, when stressed, there are areas where they can go to relax and be away from people. Chai said that the THS had a working disagreement about money, but that the "goal has always been charity" when it came to the café.

Chai added that the café will be receiving new cats shortly from other rescue shelters in the area, and that the café will remain open despite the allegations.

Until then, there's always other places you can go to trip out on shrooms.

Follow Jake Kivanç on Twitter.

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