Cat Bar: Bristol’s Bag O’ Nails Offers Beer and Belly Scratches
The Bag O’ Nails pub in Bristol, England doesn’t open until noon and shutters its doors around 11 pm each night. Most of the regulars to the quant tavern located in the Hotwells area of the city rotate in and out throughout the day except for 15 dedicated patrons who inhabit the alehouse from open to close.
The group sticks around throughout the night, not to knock back cold ones while owner Luke Daniels isn’t around, but because it’s their home. Some were even born inside the joint.
Daniels bought the pub about five years ago and brought in two kittens—Malcolm and Beresford—to help run the bar. Malcolm is a British shorthaired silver tabby male and Beresford, named after the former owner of the Bag O’ Nails, is a solid black female. Those two kittens hit it off inside the bar and had a family of their own.
Cats inhabiting corner taverns isn’t exclusive to the UK.
“In the United States, there are a number of pub-dwelling cats,” explains best-selling author Lisa Rogak. Her book Cats On The Job chronicles the occupations of countless kittens around the country. “One of the best known is a gray striped tabby by the name of Mr. Wu, who presides over Molly’s at the Market, a family-run bar located in the French Quarter of New Orleans,” she adds. “The cat first showed up at Molly’s after Hurricane Katrina, and essentially never left.”
While most patrons are fine with the arrangement—though, the occasional customer will walk out because of allergies—the RSPCA isn’t particularly thrilled with a litter of felines living among barrels of brew. “Some cats might not enjoy being handled by strangers and generally we do not recommend keeping a lot of cats in one place,” explained the RSPCA in a statement to The Telegraph back in 2015.
The organization went on to say that while the interaction between humans and cats is beneficial to both, they “always ask for consideration for the welfare of the animals.”
Besides a friendly hand always available for belly scratches, the felines at Bag O’ Nails are well cared for by all accounts—though the pub has had some patrons try to make off with a furry friend. “A couple people have tried and failed to make off with a cat,” explains Bag O’ Nails employee Matt. “One lady did get taken away by the police for it. But most customers respect the cats.”
The cats are one big happy family, and they love mingling with patrons throughout the day. But, according to Matt, the cats aren’t typically as welcoming to four-legged outsiders. This includes mice, birds, and even squirrels.
“We have no problem with mice in the pub but occasionally a cat will try to bring in something hunted outside,” says Matt. “One even brought in a squirrel!”
The felines have definitely contributed to the buzz around the Bristol watering hole, and the media attention has brought customers from all over the country, and the globe, in for pints. Many of those patrons flock to social media to show their love for both the pub and Malcolm and Beresford’s little family by posting photos with the bar cats.
“I never knew going to a cat bar was on my bucket list until tonight,” Laura Gordon posted on her Instagram account.
But despite the location’s growing popularity as a travel destination for feline lovers, owner Daniels wants to make one thing clear—the Bag O’ Nails is first and foremost a bar.
Patrons coming to visit the spot for the feline company are expected to order a drink—and keep the alcohol far away from the resident cats. Because while the Bag O’ Nails is a great destination for humans to cheers some beers, It’s not a drinking spot for cats.
Images courtesy Bag O’ Nails via Facebook
Chris Illuminati is an author, blogger, and stand-up comic whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, BroBible, Men’s Health, and many other publications.