London now has a cat cafe. I repeat: London now has a cat cafe. Following a successful crowdfunding push that raised a whisker over £109,000 ($181,000), London now has its very own version of the globally growing concept phenomenon first popularized in Japan, a city full of cat lovers willing to pay for a brief fix of fuzzy cuteness in a city with harsh renting rules and tiny residential spaces. Londoners can certainly relate.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium brings a rather British twist to the cat café by offering full afternoon tea services to those who wish to fine dine with felines. The entire café has an appropriately grandma-chic feel to it, with food and drinks being served in mismatched antique china mugs and plates. Scattered throughout the rooms are plush cat beds, discreet litter boxes, toys, perching shelves on the walls that are carpeted with astroturf, and copies of Your Cat magazine. Downstairs is a cozy hangout for the cafe’s visitors and permanent hosts, its main feature being a huge antique bookcase with plenty of hidey holes for cats who need a moment to get away from the stress of celebrity.
Speaking of cat comforts, Lady Dinah’s has a few rules to help ensure the safety and happiness of everyone involved. The first rule of Lady Dinah’s is that you do not pick up the cats. A few other requirements are told to you as you come in via the anteroom, but most involve common sense, like not feeding the cats your food or trying to pat them while they eat theirs. Many other rules exist to keep the café running smoothly and hygienically, and to that end, the cafe has a unique approach to staff roles.
Lady Dinah’s waitstaff will take your orders, handle your food and beverages, and at no point are allowed to touch the cats. (Talk about torture–8 hours of being around such overwhelming cuteness, and not being able to indulge with even so much as a belly rub.) The cafe staff also includes an Official Cat Carer, who spends their entire shift facilitating play between cats and patrons, as well as observing the many cats for changes in eating, behavioral, or sleeping patterns. In short, they are pretty much paid to play with cats, a job for which Lady Dinah’s will have no shortage of applicants should additional staffing be required.
Of the 11 coddled kitties, eight are one big, happy family. Rescue cat Mue blessed the Lady Dinah’s team with 7 kittens, and three further cats were adopted to make the complete clowder.
They also serve great coffee here; truly, this is a much wow business model. Lady Dinah’s uses beans roasted by London’s well-regarded Caravan, and pulls espresso shots on a two group La Marzocco Linea. Milk options include whole, skim, soy, and coconut, but as per the shop’s interaction protocol, patrons are not allowed to proffer a saucer to the cats, regardless of how well it might be received. In addition to beverage offerings Lady Dinah’s also serves an array of cakes and pastries, including vegan and gluten-free options.
It’s all about the cats here (obviously), but the availability of tasty cakes, tea services, and quality coffee has helped turn Lady Dinah’s into a huge success since opening in March 2014, fielding previous puss press from the likes of Wired, The Atlantic, and Refinery 29, to name just a few. For £5 you get as much cat patting and Instagramming as you can fit into two hours, but please, book ahead (as in months ahead) to avoid disappointment. This cat cafe has a multi-fortnight wait list.
We’d continue the article but we’re fresh out of cat puns and you probably just want to see cute pictures anyway. Here’s some more photos of cats in a cafe.