Cat Cafe - story of an Australian entrepreneur
A gentle afternoon with kittens, cats and pastries. Purr-fect.
Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is located near Brick Lane in Shoreditch. This crowd funded restaurant brings together cat enthusiasts and cats to create a quirky London experience. Don't expect eternal love from a fluffy kitten but, if you play your cards right, a hefty cat called Wookie may deign to pass your table. And yes, for cat lovers, he is well worth the wait.
The experience begins in the reception area where a charming cat lady-come-host explains the house rules so that felines and visitors can enjoy a respectful and relaxed time. Then, once you've been formally seated, you are free to roam the two storey building. The cafe is reminiscent of a dolls house with oversized animal playthings scattered around chintz tables and chairs. People of all ages quietly move about seeking cat action or a cat selfie, otherwise they are settling into hot drinks and pastries or comparing cat stories.
The nine cafe cats are free to wander. They mostly hang out in baskets or lounge on soft furnishings although one surprising feline loves to watch bird videos on an iPad. The younger cats are livelier and there is a huge range of cat toys available to play with them while the resident cafe cat wrangler is happy to tell you about their personalities and histories. Finally, anyone wanting a lasting moment of their visit can buy a cat inspired jewellery item or homeware product.
Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium was started by a young women, Lauren Pears, from Australia. She successfully crowd funded her work to create the cafe. Historically, many innovative women in London have been associated with animals and animal welfare and I recommend thinking about them at the cat cafe. Consider, for example, women associated with the anti-vivisection movement in the 1800s and early 1900s like Anna Kingsford and or Lizzy Lind af Hageby. Or think about Jesse Wade who began the Cat Protection Society in 1927 which has helped over an impressive 1 million cats in the last five years.
Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is not the cheapest experience in town but rest reassured that some of your money goes towards relocating a few of London's numerous dumped or lost cats. Happily, all cats at the Emporium are rescued and they find good permanent homes for them once they reach retirement age - and not even human Londoners are guaranteed such a restful old age. The cafe holds great appeal to young people but children under 12s are not admitted. This is a popular destination so make sure you book ahead on their website and leave time to look around Brick Lane after your visit.