• Friday, 19 December 2014

    Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium - A very fluffy birthday trip

    If you've known me for longer than five minutes, you're probably aware of my love of cats. And dogs. And pretty much any four-legged fluffy creature. So when Jay agreed to take me to the one and only, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in London for my birthday (back in September) I was painfully excited. Now, in case you've been living under a rock for the past year and haven't heard about Lady Dinah's, let me explain. Lady Dinah's is Britain's only cat cafe. Made popular in Japan, the purpose of cat cafes is to supply much needed quality time with our feline friends to those who, due to whatever reason, can't have their own. 

    From my own research, I've found that the ones in Japan are a dime-a-dozen and don't always look after their cats, but Lady Dinah's is different. Every guest must book a specific time slot and a limited amount of people are allowed in at once. Cats, as you may know, are sociable creatures but should always be allowed to approach you on their own terms. This way, the cats have time to get comfortable and not become overwhelmed by all the new people in the room. The cats are the number one priority in this business which is one of the reasons I have so much respect for Lady Dinah's. 

    We booked in for a two hour slot at 1.45pm on a Friday afternoon, when we got there most of the cats seemed to be waking up from their cat nap. This actually worked nicely as it gave us a chance to settle in, order a hot chocolate and an exquisite piece of Red Velvet cake and poke around. Being British, it took most of the guests a while to get comfortable and happy to wander around. Normally in a coffee shop, people usually pick a spot and get comfortable, but don't be afraid to move around! We started downstairs, wandered up and down and spent a lot of time playing with various cats on the stairs. Just be cautious, there are ten cats running around, plus staff trying to carry drinks, so do try and stay out of the way.

    The cats themselves, each have their own personality, but are all very friendly. We did notice that most of them became more confident towards the end of our visit, but perhaps this was just timing. Lady Dinah's asks that you don't disturb cats when they are sleeping, as anyone who's ever had cats will know that cats need a lot of sleep! That being said, do approach the cats, they see hundreds of people weekly and seem to be quite content getting on with their own thing, but more than willing to play. The cafe has ridiculous amounts of toys, brushes and boxes spread out all over the place for both you and the cats to play with. Talk to the staff, they know the cats really well and know what they like, I spent a very merry quarter of an hour dragging bubble wrap around the shop with Mue chasing it ferociously.

    A fly caused a great deal of interest amongst all the cats during our visit, I adore this picture of these curious kitties!

    I'd highly recommend a visit if you're a fellow cat lover, it made an excellent birthday treat and is definitely somewhere we'll be returning to when we get a chance. We booked our visit about three months in advance, as it was necessary due to the popularity of the place when it first opened. Now that it's been around for a while, walk-ins are accepted, but I'd still recommend booking to avoid disappointment. There's a £5 entrance fee that goes to cover costs of cat-care, which I feel is very reasonable. If you're still looking for a last minute Christmas present, a trip here would be an excellent idea.

    If you do go, just remember that you get out of your visit what you put in. Cats are dignified creatures who will never approach humans excitedly the way a little labrador puppy may. So get over your polite British-ness and chat to the staff, the other guests and the cats! This might be the one place in Britain where you can truly unleash your inner crazy-cat-lady/gentleman; which frankly, makes it a very special place indeed. 

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