By Nanjiba Misbah
One of the hardest parts about moving away to university was leaving my three dogs behind as sometimes, after a hard day of working at the library, all I want to do is cuddle up with them and relax. I had heard a lot of good things about cat cafés, as there are quite a few in London. So, when my boyfriend (a cat lover) came to visit, I decided to take him to one as a break from all of our assignments. There are several to choose from but I decided on the London Cat Village as it is a short ride on the overground to Shoreditch, approximately 20 minutes away from New Cross.
It was not the easiest place to find as it is tucked away down a side street which no obvious signage. However, once I noticed a cat sitting in the window – I knew I was in the right place. We were greeted by a friendly member of staff who went through the house rules and gave us some slippers to wear. I found the slippers slightly strange, but kind of made the experience all the more quirky.
There are several rules at the London Cat Café which, in my opinion are extremely fair and there to protect the cats. For example, you are asked to not touch the cats if they are feeding, drinking, sleeping or resting. Similarly, you are not allowed to pick them up or give them your food. However, these rules did not hinder my enjoyment of the café and I still had a great time.
The café is set out over two floors. We were sat downstairs but, if you can, try and get seated in the upstairs part as the cats tend of hang out up there more. However, the cats freely roam around the café and you are free to walk around yourself once you have ordered your drinks and food – just be careful the cats do not try and steal it!
The cats themselves were lovely! They were so well-behaved and you really got to see their individual personalities. As a dog owner, I soon realised that this definitely could not work with dogs – they are too big and noisy! There were lots of toys for everyone to pick up so you could play with the cats. Some were more playful than others though! I was a bit apprehensive at first as I am an animal-lover, I wanted to make sure they were well looked after. However, there were lots of places for them to hide if they did not want to be around people. A lot of the cats are rescues as well which made me very happy to see! The staff are very knowledgeable about the cats so do not be afraid to ask questions. I even found out that the café does movie nights where you can watch a film whilst cuddling up to the cats!
It is recommended that you book your one-hour time slot in advance through the website as it gets extremely busy, especially at weekends! The food and drinks were fairly priced but you are required to pay a compulsory £5 per person per hour. As an animal lover I was more than happy to pay this as this goes towards caring for the cats and helps cover food costs and vet’s fees. For the two of us to visit for an hour and get a coffee each it cost approximately £16. Whilst not a cheap coffee, I felt it was worth the money as I was also paying for the experience.
Overall I thought I was a great experience and a nice way to get a short break from assignments. However, I would not do it too often as it is a bit too expensive if it became a regular thing. Nonetheless, it is something different to do if you have friends or family visiting and is perfect for when you are missing your fur babies – whether you are a dog or cat lover.
By Emily Keens
London Cat Village website: http://www.londoncatvillage.com/