Cavies and Cake in Fakenham run therapy classes with their trained guinea-pigs for care homes, disability groups and day centres.
Owner Diana Taylor started Cuddly Cavies 10 years ago when she lived in Surrey. When she moved to Norfolk she became friends with Michelle Mills, as both themselves and their children were autistic, and they bonded over their love for guinea-pigs.
Before owning the cafe, they service was remote, visiting elderly people in care and SEN children in schools with the guinea-pigs.
Both Diana and Michelle have backgrounds in care and understood the importance of animals in helping people deal with stress as well as giving therapy to carers of vulnerable people.
Having visited care homes and seen the effect of the guinea-pigs on elderly people, Co-owner Michele Mills says, “The act of holding something that is living and breathing and is warm, it stimulates all sorts of conversations about when they had children.”
“You’re suddenly looking after something again, you’re going back to being the caregiver, rather than the care-receiver.”
Cavies & Cake was established in 2021 when they purchased the Stable Cottage, so that they could still run the therapy with vulnerable people and so they could social distance.
They also offer sessions to anyone who wants to come and cuddle guinea-pigs. Currently, they have 30+ guinea-pigs at the cafe.
Michelle Mills says the owning all those guinea-pigs is “really good fun” and that it teaches her children responsibility.