Visiting this ‘cat cafe’ in Shoreditch has been on my ‘to do’ list for yolks now. It sounds like a destination only found in ones dreams. Last week we finally booked in a visit, and it was all I hoped it would be.
I’ve only ever had one real pet in my life, unless you count dozens of constantly breeding stick insects that rocked back and forth in a very creepy fashion. I had wanted a cat forever…I say forever, but I was only about 7, so it can’t have been that long. That said, it felt like an eternity because I wanted one so bad, but my parents were adamant it wasn’t going to happen. I resorted to terribly manipulative behaviour in an attempt to persuade them, although I don’t think I was aware of this scheming at the time, this is something I’ve realised in hindsight. I used to stroke an imaginary cat at the dinner table….I’m guessing to make my parents anxious that I’d lost the plot because of the absence of a feline figure in my life.
Evetually I got a little black kitten called Mitzi, I’m not sure whether my dinner time fake stroking had anything to do with it or not, but either way I was blissfully happy and completely in love.
She wasn’t as cuddly as I would have liked because my parents were always quite strict about where she was allowed to go in the house, and very rigid about her not lying on the sofa unless it was in her bed. That said, she was definitely my cat, and would scratch at my door in the morning so that I’d let her in for a cuddle, and she’d always pick my lap over others at her disposal. Twenty years later she died, pretty much in my arms, and I still miss her terribly. It incredible how the presence of these creatures warms up a house. Even if you are the only human home you somehow never feel alone when theres an animal roaming round or snoozing by the radiator.
After she died I had some more cats in my life via cat sitting work. They have all since passed too, but all varied so much in their personalities, disproving all those that say cats are boring companions. Harry the ginger used paw my face although the day and night, insisting on cuddles and scratching, he’s also drink from my mugs and follow me to the toilet and shower. Olly had a silent meow and used to stare at walls – we don’t know why, but it was dreadfully cute. I could go on, but I fear my gushing about these furry friends would never stop.
But you’ll see from my instagram that over the last year or so I have posted a lot of pictures of a dog called Rosie, a cockapoo we befriended through Borrow My Doggy. It is quite clear we are besotted with her, and love to smother her with cuddles. But I will always have a special bond with cats.
The place itself isn’t visually showstopping in any shape or form. It looks a bit makeshift and hotch potch, but for me that gave it a certain charm. Let’s face it, it would be ludicrous to spend money creating a flawless and luxurious space if you have an abundance of real life animals (and all that goes with that) pretty much living within it. You don’t go there for chic decor, you are there to sit and enjoy and nice drink and cake while watching, stroking, playing with some adorable cats.
We booked in for a standard visit at £6 each – all of which goes towards looking after the cats. There is an afternoon tea option that looks delicious, but at over £30 each, sadly it was way out of our budget. Our table was situated downstairs, which is a little darker than the ground floor, but has a slightly larger space for the cats to play. The menu was terrific, with a huge assortments of snack and cakes, including some vegan options too. They also have a selection of drinks named after their cat residents, all influenced by their different personalities. I chose the ‘Alice’ which was a hot chocolate with a kick of chilli and warming dose of ginger. Yummy!!
Of course I couldn’t resist the allure of the Red Velvet layer cake either….
Meet Wookie, the baddest (and fattest) cat in town…..he is also the laziest. For all these reasons he is my favourite resident of the cafe. A persian and muggy cross if you’re wondering.
They have lots of toys, strings, tunnels, boxes etc that allow you to interact and play with the cats. They do request that you don’t disturb the cats which are asleep, and refrain from picking them up. The cats are allowed to sit on your lap, shoulders, table…wherever the heck they want. After-all they rule this place, and as we all know they are fiercely independent and will do as they wish. Quite right!
If any of you have worries about the welfare of the cats there is no need. They all seemed very happy and relaxed in the environment, and all the customers are very aware of what is acceptable behaviour while they are on site. Cats that have found the amount of people too much to deal with no longer come to the cafe, and the staff clearly dote and care for the animals, and ensure they are comfortable. You can see from the interaction that cats have with the staff that the love is a two way thing.
If you are a bit of a Niles Krane – someone who is constantly wiping things down and extremely conscious of germs – this may not be the place for you to enjoy a refreshment. But If you like cats, and can think of nothing better than the combination of enjoying a drink/cake in the company of some intelligent and beautiful creatures, then this is the place for you. 90 minutes of cute.