A cat charity has branded plans to create the purr-fect place for coffee drinkers a “gimmick” at the expense of the animals.

Jon Ely and Keri Craddock launched a campaign to raise more than £40,000 to start Brighton and Hove’s first cat cafe.

But the couple want to reassure animal charities, which are having kittens over the idea, raising concerns about the potential poor treatment of cats.

The pair need to raise thousands of pounds over the next two months to buy vital equipment for the cafe, including a coffee machine as well as crockery and blenders.

They hope to open up in March on Western Road and are currently looking for a suitable site.

The idea was formed three years ago when Keri, 22, was shown pictures of the cat cafes which are now commonly found in Japan.

The cafe will have ten cats roaming around and the pair are currently looking to form a partnership with a local cat shelter to supply the animals, and 10% of profits will also go to animal charity PDSA.

Mr Ely, 26, said that cats had many proven health benefits including stress relieving qualities, help in reducing coronary disease and high blood pressure, asthma in children, while the frequency of cat purrs reputedly help the healing process of broken bones.

But concerns have been raised by animal charities about the welfare of a large number of cats in a confined space, surrounded by strangers.

Maggie Roberts, director of veterinary services at Cats Protection, which has its national headquarters at Chelwood Gate, said: “We believe this kind of environment is not suitable for domestic cats because they have evolved as solitary animals and generally do not choose to live in groups.

“Although Cats Protection does not have powers to prevent cafes like this from being set up, we believe that people who care about the wellbeing of cats would not want them to be exploited as a gimmick to sell coffee and would therefore not wish to encourage this establishment.”

Mr Ely said: “Cats Protection have concerns that are not completely unfounded but their views are old-fashioned.

“They have not kept up to date with research which shows that cats are sociable, they are not stressed out around people as long as they are of the right temperament.”

To help support the cafe, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-cat-cafe-for-brighton-and-hove-actually.