The demand for cat cafés has soared since the first feline-friendly café opened its doors in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998. Now springing up in cities across the world from Canada to Poland to Japan, animal lovers worldwide are flocking to cat cafés – where in return for an hourly cover fee, they can drink tea and eat cake with a clowder of resident cats.

But for the many living in rented accommodation around the world, cat cafés provide the chance to spend some quality time with animals they are unable to have at home. Not only a sanctuary for cats fanatics, cat cafés provide a sanctuary for those who need respite from the world.

Research has shown cats can be beneficial to our wellbeing. According to the charity Cats Protection, a study involving more than 600 cat and non-cat owning respondents (with half of them describing themselves as having a mental health problem), showed that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing. In addition, 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends.

To find out more about the therapeutic abilities of the internet's favourite furry friends, IBTimes UK spoke to the owner of the first cat café in London, Lauren Pears.