Yes yes, they are a thing these days. There’s one in Shoreditch called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. When that one opened it seemed like it was a ‘new’ thing. It looks like it wasn’t; Japan is all over it.
I guess because they love anything cute – think Hello Kitty and Pikachu – cats and small fluffy dogs are a pretty big thing here. We even saw a puppy and kitten shop with a floor of clothes and accessories for them above it.
The premise of the cafes is that they basically own a load of cats, hopefully rescued or with some kind of story to tell, and a cat friendly room. Boom – there’s a business plan. You pay by length of time that you want to spend in there, either in 20 minute or half hour intervals. Sometimes this will include a drink, other times it’s extra.
The two we went into we’re very different; one was in the busy shopping centre of town and the other was on the outskirts, more hidden away. The first was very well designed, with all sorts of hidden cat walkways, cat flap exits, toys and cool beds for them to chill in. And the cats were gorgeous, if a little podgy. They each had a name and you had to pick your favourite and put it in the box at the end. But… You could tell it was a central busy location because the cats were all just sleepy and not interested in new people at all… Super cute to sit and stroke but got no reaction at all!
Except this guy who decided he would really like our tea, and everyone else’s drinks too.
This dude was very pissed off that he was entertainment when an American guy tried to pick him up.
This was my favourite (the grey one). He is my ultimate design of cat when we get one in the future.
The second one we stumbled across when we were really in need of a drink on the outskirts of town having done a few hours sightseeing. It was on the first floor, slightly out of sight. It was much cheaper than the first one so we decided to pop in. This one did have a bit more of a story: the cats had all been rescued as kittens at around the same time so had grown up together and they all had names related to their looks or how they’d been found. They were so friendly with each other, much more interactive than the first place. Two of them sat and licked each other while another played with a paper ball and a fourth watched on waiting to get involved.
I guess if we hadn’t been to the second one, I wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with the first one. Because there wasn’t really. The first cats were definitely a bit older and overweight so less up for playing, maybe that’s the key? I guess with hindsight it seemed a bit sad that cats can be over-petted and their exposure should be restricted a bit more… But then it is a business… Bit of a moral issue there I feel…
This one was Pete’s favourite because it had way bigger eyes than him, and it was good at staring. We all aspire to something.