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Pure purrfection: London’s cat cafés

We know you’ve been waiting for this.

Our guide to London’s cat cafés introduces a growing trend here in the capital, inspired by the success of animal-themed spaces in Japan and Taiwan. London now has two cafés in Shoreditch to comfort those without access to their feline friends – residents and visitors to the city alike.

Global origins

The main idea behind the phenomenon is to provide a relaxing and fun space where people can get away from the city with the company of a household pet – outside their home. In a city such as London small flats, high costs and a busy working life prevent many residents taking full-time care of a cat. This can be seen in Tokyo, another international city which now has around 40 cat cafés, although it doesn’t just end with cats: rabbits, owls and even goats have begun occupying venues around Japan.

It should be noted that there have been some questions raised by charities such as the RSPCA about the wisdom of keeping a large number of the traditionally solitary animals together. However, part of the reason there remain so few of the cafés in the UK are the strict regulations laid down, particularly with regard to animal welfare. Many of the cats are provided by rescue homes and are adopted on an individual basis, while the London Cat Village also has a strict series of house rules, including the need to sanitise hands before entry and not to pick up the cats.

Cafés tend to have around 10-15 cats, depending on their size and location. The cats come and go, with outdoor access providing a retreat away from the vast numbers of strangers they will meet in any one day. In the UK they can be found across the country – with locations from Edinburgh to the North-East and, of course, in London, currently home to just the two.

Lady Dinah’s

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in Shoreditch was named after the pet cat in Alice in Wonderland, and was the first to open in London. There is a warming tearoom style to the venue, with a variety of snacks and coffees on offer for guests as they enjoy relaxing with the cats. Each guest is given access for an hour and a half, after a short talk laying out the etiquette required.

London Cat Village

The second café to open in the capital was the London Cat Village, also in Shoreditch. For £5 guests receive an hour, and the rules are explained to ensure they and cats alike can enjoy the experience, while there is, again, a range of hot drinks, cakes and sandwiches on sale. The café has begun movie nights, in addition to themed events such as for Halloween (for more on Halloween events in London check out our guide).

Here to stay?

A third will arrive soon in Hackney, courtesy of James Bowen and A Streetcat Named Bob, the feline star behind a series of bestselling books. It seems that the trend, while slow to get going, is kicking off across the UK, not least in London. The cats are here to stay.

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