It was while I was sat in a beautiful Bondi Beach apartment in Sydney that I started to dread coming back to London, even with three weeks to go until my return. I started searching for things to do when I got back to dull the blow of coming back to reality, and in my quest I booked a table for me and the housemate at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s first cat cafe. I was one of many who donated to their original Kickstarter project, and to a digital fan fare, they finally opened earlier this year on Bethnal Green Road. I’ve been following them on social media for my daily cute overdose, but there isn’t enough squealing for when you actually get in there.
You’re invited in to a small room before entering the actual cafe so you can wash your hands, be reminded not to feed the kitties (they’re lactose intolerant so a saucer of milk is a no-go!) and to let sleeping cats lie (that’s the phrase, right?). Once you’re in, you can sit at any of tables or sofas and you’re encouraged to move around to see as many of the cats as possible. You get allocated a two hour slot which is perfect, especially considering that when we first arrived most of the cats were fast asleep and showed no signs of wanting to play.
Be under no illusions, the cats have full reign here. They can sit where they please, they’ll sniff whatever looks interesting, and if you have a plastic bag they are likely to think it’s the best thing since cat Christmas. There are boxes of toys, huge structures to climb on, hammocks suspended over staircases and cat beds in the windows luring in the tourists of east London. All tables are supplied with hand sanitiser so you can drop the less important task of eating for essential cat stroking if they happen to take an interest in you at any point.
The food is a secondary thought when you book a table, but as it turns out, it’s pretty good. We had a ploughman’s with a me-sized portion of cheese (any less is a tragic waste of dairy) and a massive slice of banoffee pie to share, before going back to embracing our inner crazy cat ladies.
Living in London is great, but not having the space for a pet is sometimes really frustrating. But having the opportunity to go and pander over some moggies and eat cake at the same time is a sure-fire winning concept for those of us in need of some animal therapy.