Yes, we really did.
Ever since BuzzFeed announced last year that the phenomenon of the cat café (which is exactly what it sounds like) was coming to London, I knew it had to go on the list. Mostly because I couldn’t imagine the humiliation of answering “no” when anyone, for the rest of my life, said, “Oh, you lived in London? Did you go to the cat café?” Mortificato.
Also, it was because I wanted to play with some cats.
One gloomy grey day a few weeks ago, Amity & I found our way over to east London, wound through the market stalls to the edge of Shoreditch, and stopped outside the startlingly purple façade of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. That is indeed its name.
You really should pay attention to the briefing, but if you’re especially eager you can just skip to Step 3 above: CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS
The little café spreads over two floors. The ground floor is the tearoom, furnished in a charming old-fashioned Victorian style, where you can order from a simple menu. The lower floor is a hodgepodge of couches, bookshelves, climbing obstacles, and cat toys.
The cats roam around everywhere. Let’s be honest, they run the place. They’re all rescue cats, which I think is wonderful.
We were there late morning, when the kitties seemed to be at their spunkiest.
Confession time. This excursion was totally my idea, but it took me a little while to really get in to it. The spectacle of a roomful of grown adults competing for the attention of a bunch of cats was just a little bizarre and awkward at first. But the staff were so friendly and the cats were so cute that pretty soon it was just plain fun!
This little black kitten was one of our favorites. He was super spastic and mischievous, and I later found out that, very appropriately, his name is Loki.
Look at that prowling cat shadow!
Eventually we made our way back upstairs, where the front windows offered a view of bustling Bethnal Green Road.
One of the three little ginger brothers was particularly interested in the passersby… and it was pretty funny to watch the people outside walk past and do double-takes. There were even a few suited-up businessmen who came back to snap pictures on their phones.
This guy tried to get some peace & quiet, but his friends wouldn’t let him have it…
So he leapt up to greener pastures…
I liked that one with the squished face. He reminded me of Crookshanks. His name was Wookie, I think.
Pretty soon he and his buddies realized that if they couldn’t pester each other, they might as well see what we were getting up to.
Loki had disappeared for a while (no doubt up to no good somewhere), but pretty soon resurfaced to try out his best ninja cat impression.
I wouldn’t have thought that a cat café would actually be the best place to swing for refreshments, but the whole place was immaculate – not a stray cat hair anywhere on the floor or furniture. The staff told us that they make sure the cats eat a highly nutritional diet and are groomed daily to keep their coats healthy and shedding to a minimum.
We decided to risk it and sprung for cream tea… which turned out to be an excellent decision, because it was actually one of the best I’ve had in London!
Just as we were finishing up the last buttery scone crumbs, Loki trotted over and tucked himself into bed (literally into bed – there was a tiny cat bed) behind us.
Try and tell me that’s not the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen.
Actually, it seemed to be naptime all round. It was pretty funny to watch the energy levels die off so quickly after all the running around everybody had been doing all morning.
We decided that the mass outbreak of feline narcolepsy was our cue to leave and let the cats have a little snooze before their afternoon customers arrived, so we grabbed our coats and made our way out.
Tiptoeing so as not to wake the sleeping prince of mischief, of course.
He’s almost as cute as the real one…