Ever considered applying for a job at a cat café? How would you prepare for your interview if the cats themselves were the hiring managers? [no rubbing tuna paste behind your ears] >^..^<
Pause Cat Café in Bournemouth, England is holding a ‘speed-dating’ style recruitment event for the cafe’s cats to select potential employees. The café hopes that this novel ‘Recruitment Catsultancy’ will help them find the most suitable human additions to their team. The café is inundated with applicants every time they post new jobs, with over 700 applicants for their last advertised role.
On March 22nd Pause Cat Café will hold a speed-dating style recruitment evening: potential candidates will spend a few minutes at stations throughout the cafe to meet each cat, answer questions and complete tasks to assess their suitability.
Each cat in the café has a special bond with one or more members of the team, affectionately named their ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’. Each cat’s ‘pawrent’ has designed a task fitting their cat’s requirements; Bear’s Mum, Naomi, says that Bear is predominantly concerned with candidates’ ability to throw her favorite carrot toy and find it when she hides it around the café, so they will be tested on this when meeting Bear at the event.
As well as meeting the feline team, candidates will be allocated time with key members of the human crew including staff, volunteers and regular customers. The ethos of the cafe centers around kindness; helping others and connecting with people and animals from diverse backgrounds, so they are seeking individuals who share that vision.
The café hopes to use the event to recruit several staff for the busy holiday period and sees this event as a quirky way to make sure the cats get the purrfect human attendants to keep them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
Full and part-time roles include Assistant Manager, Chef, Barista, Waiting Staff, Hospitality Apprentice and a range of voluntary roles. Students looking for holiday work would be ideal for the seasonal posts. Pause is a disability confident employer with over a third of their team having some form of disability, so roles can be adapted accordingly.
We caught up with owner Jaya Da Costa and her four-legged feline pawtner (Rooney) for some insights into the origins and mission of Pause [Photo below: Jaya & Rooney]
Q: When was the official opening date of Pause?
We opened on World Cat Day: 17th February 2017 so we are just 1 year old.
Q: How many cats have been adopted since you opened?
Originally we planned to rehome from Pause, but we sought advice from leading animal behaviorists who all shared the same advice relating to this. They explained that cats in multi-cat households form social colonies with their own territories and hierarchy and that to bring different cats in and out would stress the cats and prevent them from settling happily, so we decided we’d rather help 12 happy rescue cats than inflicting stress on any cats. Instead, we promote rehoming and kindness to animals.
Q: How many cats do you currently in house?
We have 12 rescue cats, all from different backgrounds, plus Rooney – my rescue cat who lives with me at home and inspired me to create Pause.
Q: How many staff do you have at the moment?
We have 10 staff (2 full-time and 8 part-time) and 45 volunteers. At any one time in the cafe, we need a minimum of 3 staff and 1 volunteer to ensure the cats are safe and happy, customers are attended to, and the hygiene stays tip-top because the food and drink are prepared in cat-free areas. At busy times we need 6 staff and 3 volunteers. Over a third of our staff and volunteer team have some form of disability; physical, mental-health or learning difficulty.
Q: What makes Pause unique/different from other cat cafes?
We are based on our mission of kindness and this extends to everything we do and shapes our cafe. Our priority is promoting kindness to animals but also kindness to our community and our environment. We operate as a not-for-profit and our cats’ happiness always comes first. We researched and sought advice on how to keep our cats happy and how to monitor that they stay happy. Each cat has his or her own microchip activated spacious cat-bedroom so they can have time away from each other or from customers any time they choose, and they are never confined to their rooms or to the cafe areas – that way we can see if they want to be together. They show us that they enjoy each other’s company and playing with customers in the cafe, because they come out to play when the customers arrive!
The cats are attended 24-7 with staff members taking it in turns to stay overnight and it’s not unheard of to wake up with all 12 on the bed with you and a couple even under the covers! Each cat has his or her own allocated ‘parent’ who knows their cat inside and out and watches for signs of behavior change, and there are backup families for any cat who is not enjoying cafe lifestyle (not that we’ve ever had to use them!). We employ a veterinary trained cat care specialist, health check our cats twice a day and have vet and behaviorist visits monthly – our vet says they are the happiest cats they’ve ever seen!
Pause provides a haven for cats and people to enjoy each other’s company. Everybody (human or animal) needs love to flourish, and our rescue cats have really blossomed with the constant love and attention they are showered with from cat-loving customers, staff and volunteers. They have recovered from their past trauma and behavioral problems much quicker than most domestic rescue cats and we put that down to the abundance of affection they receive.
We also offer delicious vegetarian (mostly vegan) and substantially gluten-free food and drinks with cute cat-themed names (our menu)
Q: How did you come up with the idea of cat-centric speed recruitment?
Our cats’ happiness is our priority, and seeing as Pause is their home, we think it only fair that they get to choose who they share it with for 8 hours a day. The cats definitely take a shine to certain people and certain cats bond instantly with certain staff. We thought this event would be the purrfect way to watch those interactions occur.
Q: How many positions are you looking for?
We are looking for an Assistant Manager, Chef, Barista, Waiter, Apprentice and volunteers. There are a total of 5 paid roles available. Anyone who wants to apply should visit www.tiny.cc/bestjob
Q: Are you and your team excited about ‘test driving’ this new Recruiting Catsultancy on the 22nd?
Our entire team is looking forward to the event because we think it will be a lot of fun, and we are looking forward to helping the cats conduct their tests for the candidates. Pumpkin’s assessment is the most straightforward and depends purely on belly-rubbing skills, but Clifford is really challenging prospective candidates because he likes to keep people on their toes – they could be out of the running if they don’t throw his favourite toy correctly while he waits to catch it and throw it back from the cat bridge overhead.
Q: What special advice can you offer to prospective candidates?
There will only be a few minutes to impress each cat in this speed-dating style recruitment event, so a bit of research could really help improve your chances – each cat has their own Facebook or Instagram so candidates could get to know them, their personalities and what they like in advance.
Q: Any special events/activities planned in Pause in the coming months?
We hold ‘kittens classes’ where our cat care specialist and teaching assistants teach children about kindness to animals and animal health and behaviour. We also do a special class for children with Special Educational Needs.
We also run a number of wellbeing events for our cats and people to spend time together, for example cat yoga, mindfulness, counselling and connection workshops.
We have a number of groups running at the cafe: Aunty Anne’s Golden Oldies (Aunty Anne is our oldest cat aged 13), Autism & Aspergers Group, Craft Group, Carers Coffee Morning, Mentoring for Care Leavers and the local Blind Association (although, the guide dogs have to sit outside!)
All photos provided by Pause
We applaud this initiative and look forward to hearing the results of the interview process. Remember, would be applicants cannot slip sardines down their socks!
Please be sure to follow Rooney, Jaya and the Pause Patrol on Instagram at @PauseCatCafe