Another busy Bank Holiday weekend but fun to say the least as I got to visit Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium on Saturday, which had a staggering 7.000 bookings when it first opened its doors in March.
Situated in Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch, from the outside you can see the coffee counter and the top floor of the tearoom, with a couple of snoozing cats, chilling in hammocks. There is a £5 door charge for visitors and before you enter the tearooms, a friendly assistant explains the Cat Rules; do not pick up the cats, do not wake a sleeping cat and photography is allowed, as long as the flash is turned off. The staff are on hand at all times, not only to take your order but to give visitors little anecdotes/tips about each of the 11 cats they have. It’s clear that they are passionate about their job and the Cafe.
We venture down to the basement floor of the tearooms where most of the cats are either skittering about or snoozing. We watch as Mue, a tortoiseshell who is the mother of 7 of the 11 cats, play-fights with one of her daughters Biscuit. Amongst the mismatched kitsch furniture and trunks are lots of hiding places and toys and visitors are encouraged to play with the cats or feed them one of their favourite treats. Ginger Tom Romeo took a particular liking to Amy and even snuzzled up to her on her lap. Might have been something to do with the chicken biscuits…hmm…
The menu offers a list of delectable treats; a cream tea with scones, a beautiful ploughman’s platter served on a cake tier, quiches, bagels and freshly made cakes. We opted for a pot of tea (served in china cups, of course) and a sliver of the rich chocolate torte and the most divine red velvet cake.
I was concerned before visiting about the cafe’s set-up; would it be clean? Would the cats have lots of space to roam around? Would they feel comfortable in the company of different strangers every day? Having owned cats for most of my life, I know that they generally like to do their own thing; Dogs have Masters, Cats have Staff, as the saying goes.
My qualms were soon quickly dealt with; it is such a relaxed atmosphere and the cats are well and truly in their element. The Cat Rules have been made in their best interest and even the staff let them swan around the place like they own it. Since food and drink is served in the area, visitors are also told not to feed the cats as they’re highly lactose-intolerant. I feel that not only is the experience wonderful for already established cat owners but also those who perhaps can’t have one because of accommodation/finances or those looking to welcome a cat in their lives. It’s an educational experience as well as a treat and I hope that they look to branch out to other cities across the UK.
In a nutshell: Crazy Cat Lady Heaven.