We have been missing our animals more and more recently. Every time we think we can just adopt a cat or dog, we remember that our future is uncertain here, and it would be unfair to the animal and to us to adopt one. A friend of mine from Texas sent me an article about a new cat cafe that has opened in London: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium.
This is exactly what it sounds like: a cafe that has cats. How perfect! I went to the website to sign up for a reservation and was met with “no openings until June 2014.” I thought I might as well get my name on the list, but then a cat-faced angel smiled on me and there was an opening for the next day.
Being unemployed sometimes has its perks.
From where we live, Lady Dinah’s is clear on the other side of the city. I hadn’t been that far east yet, but off I went to find this wonderland. Not only did I find that I was once again in Jack the Ripper’s hunting ground, but I also found where, if needed, I could go for a good haggle session on clothing, food, and luggage on the streets of Bethnal Green.
It took me a little while to find the building. Aside from a window decal, there were no other distinguishing factors that set the site aside from the rest of the companies flush against the sidewalk. But as soon as you walk in, you are surrounded by a friendly atmosphere decorated with cat decals and Alice in Wonderland memorabilia.
Since this is a cafe, and cafes generally have health codes to abide by, there were three doors to go through before seeing any of the furry friends. The bakery storefront meets you, and this is where you confirm you have a reservation. The next stop is to pay your entry fee of £5.00 and wash your hands. The rules are simple: don’t pick up the cats, don’t feed them, don’t wake a sleeping kitty, and don’t use a flash on your camera.
Once my orientation was over, I was allowed in through the third door. It is a two level space which is rather typical of most of the buildings in London. Nothing sprawls out like in the states, more specifically, Texas. Roads, sidewalks, and buildings are more often than not pre-established from many years prior, and instead of demolishing paradise for a parking lot, they work with what is there building up and down rather than out.
Two others were under the table playing, and I felt compelled to join the fun getting scratched immediately. Too cute to stop, I played with the two of them until they ran off downstairs. Above the staircase was a burlap canopy complete with sleeping cats, and on the walls had paths for cats to run around on. There is no other way to explain it than to show a picture.
I walked downstairs and the space opened up into a large space complete with more tables and chairs, and about four couches. I chose a couch close to two sleeping cats. I waited patiently for them to wake up while a couple of black kittens ran around.
I was a little sad that most of the cats were catlike meaning they didn’t want to be played with by complete strangers. How odd. The menu was adorable in the Alice and Wonderland theme, and they had a wide array of sweet and savory things including a couple of gluten free options for us with sensitive stomachs. Although they were out of the Lavender Cake, I opted for the Orange and Polenta cupcake and a pot of Earl Grey tea.
I spent the better part of my two hours reading and waiting for a kitten to jump on my lap. Seeing this was not going to happen, I broke a rule. I woke a sleeping cat. Caught off guard, it played with me for a little bit which was completely worth the price of admission.
The emporium was pretty awesome, I will say. It has only been open for a month with hopes of expanding. The cats are donated by people who either leave London for other countries or by those who can no longer house them. If only it wasn’t a forty-five minute tube ride.
I will definitely go back to Lady Dinah’s in hopes of befriending a furry friend. I highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a quick cat fix or lunch in the Bethnal Green/Liverpool Street area, but be sure to book soon! The next time I was able to get a kitten session is June 9!