Making Paw-sitive Changes: The Best Cat Cafés in the UK
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
Named after the pet cat in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in Bethnal Green/Shoreditch was the first cat café to open in London. The idea is that people who live in flats that don’t allow people to keep animals as pets can come here to enjoy the company of the cats while having a light meal or afternoon tea. The funds for the café were raised through crowdfunding over the internet. Since its opening, the café has increasingly gained popularity, with bookings often completely full weeks in advance.
Recently, the café has started offering pet first-aid courses and cat yoga sessions, on top of their usual elevenses and afternoon tea slots, for customers wishing to learn more about their beloved pets. There is also a gift shop offering cat-themed stationery, badges, toys and jumpers.
Customers receive an hour-and-a-half slot in the café, which begins with a talk before entering from one of the staff, to remind the guests of the required etiquette while in the café (in order to make sure the cats are happy and relaxed). Customers are asked not to pick the cats up, wake up sleeping cats, or behave in a noisy or disruptive manner while at the venue. The café has two main seating areas to choose from where you can watch the cats play while you eat.
Lady Dinah’s offers a wide array of hot and cold drinks, tasty cakes, sandwiches and light meals – including bagels, gluten- and vegan-free options, and salads – with regularly updated seasonal menus, including delectable-sounding peanut butter cupcakes, and speciality drinks named after each of the café’s cats as a fun, unique twist. The cosy English tearoom-style setting at Lady Dinah’s, combined with the fact that the welfare and health of the cats takes obvious priority, makes it an enjoyable spot to relax with friends while partaking in a sandwich, a slice of cake, or a cuddle with a feline friend.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, 152-154 Bethnal Green Rd, London, UK, +44 207 729 0953
Simultaneously a café and a cat rehoming centre, Kitty Café in Nottingham houses rescue cats, abandoned cats, or cats with medical problems that need a bit of TLC. Customers can even enquire about the café’s cat adoption programme if they fall head over paws for one of the cats living there. The Kitty Café menu offers tea and coffee, a light bite or a proper meal, all in the company of numerous friendly felines. For a savoury option, choose from pizza, pasta, sandwiches or jacket potatoes; there are also cakes and pies for the sweet-toothed customer. There are plenty of lids provided for the food if customers wish to deter curious feline noses, although this is also in the interest of the cats’ health.
To ensure the cats are relaxed and stress-free, there are numerous hiding places available for them around the café, including several rooms the public is not allowed in. There is also a qualified animal behaviourist on site to monitor the cats’ daily behaviour. The café has been praised for being a great way to encourage young children to respect animals and understand how to treat them carefully and gently, a message that is obviously very important to the staff that work there.
Kitty Café, 31 – 37 Friar Lane, Nottingham, UK, +44 115 924 2214
Mog on the Tyne
A clever pun on the name of the 1971 album by Lindisfarne (Fog on the Tyne), cat café Mog on the Tyne in Newcastle aims to provide tranquility and an escape from the busy working day. The café was carefully designed to be accommodating, both for the rescue cats who live there and the customers who go to visit them. The cats have dedicated areas for relaxation, and there are scheduled catnaps throughout the day to make sure they have some time to themselves. Cat shelter Westgate Ark and the Tyne Veterinary Clinic work closely with the team at the café, along with animal behaviourists who monitor the wellbeing of the cats.
Entry costs £5 for one hour, part of which goes towards Westgate Ark and providing for the cats at the café. As well as being given the pleasure of watching and playing with the cats, customers can enjoy locally sourced fresh food brought to the café on a daily basis, including gourmet sandwiches, ‘paw-ninis’ and cakes from Pet Lamb Patisserie. Particularly recommended are the peanut butter brownies and cat-themed coffees such as the ‘catte-latte’. They also have an impressive array of teas available.
Although this cat café is relatively new, customers have been attracted by ‘cat therapy’ – the idea that spending time with the cats has a relaxing and comforting effect on a person. It is also perfect for those who cannot have pets, those who have lost pets, or those simply wanting to try something a little different. Aside from the gorgeous cats themselves, the concept, customer service and the tasty cakes on offer at Mog on the Tyne are definitely worth a try.
Mog on the Tyne, 24 Pudding Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, +44 747 026 2685
Maison de Moggy
The first (and currently the only, although Glasgow plans to open its own version, The Scratching Post) cat café in Scotland, Maison de Moggy recently moved to a bigger location near Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, and is quickly becoming known in the area for its therapeutic benefits. A traditional cat café that focuses on the wellbeing of its cats, Maison de Moggy is supported by Oak Tree Vet Centre, whose vets have known the cats since they were kittens. There is also a ‘cat nanny’ on hand at all times to ensure the cats are happy and relaxed. The café itself is extremely well-designed, providing the cats with plenty of hiding spaces and high perches, and the staff are friendly and happy to share their expert knowledge.
For a morning or afternoon snack, Maison de Moggy serves a range of locally produced teas and coffees, and there are also cupcakes, tray bakes and cakes available, with gluten-free options. The shop sells fun cat-themed merchandise, including T-shirts, tea towels and gift bags. The tote bags are particularly charming: why not buy one featuring one of the café’s own cats? The café asks that customers are over 10 years old, with children up to 16 accompanied by a responsible adult. An hour-long slot costs £7 per person.
Maison de Moggy, 17 West Port, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, +44 131 629 5530
London Cat Village
London’s second cat-themed establishment opened just over two months ago. After they discovered that owning a cat helps to alleviate stress or depression, the owners decided to help others find a way to deal with their stress, too. The result is the homely ‘London Cat Village’, where visitors are invited to take their shoes off and replace them with comfortable slippers upon entry. An hour in the café costs £5, with food and drink paid for separately.
The décor in the café is reminiscent of a forest, with plenty of leafy foliage and climbing trees for the cats to enjoy. Customers can sit on benches, beanbags and cushions to play with and stroke the cats, who are all content and healthy, and enjoy being petted and fussed. As is the custom in cat cafés, there are house rules in place to deter any rough handling of the cats that might cause them discomfort or stress.
The menu includes hot drinks like tea and coffee, and serves slices of cake and sandwiches at reasonable prices. The London Cat Village also hosts a Movie Night on Wednesday evenings at either 6pm or 8:30pm. Entry is £15, which includes a free drink and popcorn.
London Cat Village, 47 Rivington Street, London, UK, +44 203 773 3223
By Eleanor Russell