When I first heard about the crowdfunding campaign to get a cat cafe open in London I was all over it like a rash. I was so excited. I signed up and pledged my hard earned wonga and then sat back, eagerly awaiting the opening date. That was at the start of 2013, and shortly afterwards I found out I'd be moving to Japan which then finally happened in November of that year. I vaguely remember that the cat cafe was supposed to have opened by then but got held up by planning permission, so I was already in Tokyo and whooping it up in the cat cafes there by the time Lady Dinah's opened its doors.
On their website, Lady Dinah's talk about how some overseas cat cafes deprive cats of food so they beg customers for treats - something I never saw in Tokyo or Seoul - but at Lady Dinah's the cats instead were stimulated with some sort of powdered chicken treat. Initially this was done by staff but they then handed it to visitors so the cat in question would interact with them. This is what that looked like.
While I can understand that the thinking behind Lady Dinah's is all to protect the cats, I feel there might be a bit of anthropomorphism going on. If your own cat was asleep at home, you wouldn't fear upsetting its emotional balance by stroking it. And if the cat was peeved at being disturbed it would go and sleep somewhere else. The same thing used to happen in the Tokyo cafes I went to. Cats wishing for a good snooze would sleep up high.
On reflection I felt that if I had never been to any other cat cafes I would have been satisfied with the experience on offer at Lady Dinah's. In fact I felt the word "experience" summed it up pretty well. It is a "cat experience" and a cafe. It was only having experienced a "cat cafe" as they were originally intended to be that made the name a misnomer in this case. However, as the Knit Harlot once said when I asked her for her opinion about knitting needles on planes (at the time they were banned) "It's their plane so it's up to them to decide what can go on them." So it follows that this is their cafe and their cats (I forget who exactly 'they' are) so it's up to them to decide when you can stroke them. However, I won't be needing the other eight of my nine lives so if anyone in the UK would like the card let me know and I'll post it to you.
One thing about the cafe is its very interesting location - on Bethnal Green Road. This is a low income area of London, coincidentally where I was living when I met The Pooch. You will not find many other hipster places just here which, let's face it, is basically what Lady Dinah's is. Depending on the way you choose to walk you can end up walking through parts of Shoreditch which has been gentrified and is now full of hipsters wearing layers of grey, black and plaid. This means the graffiti, something I quietly admire in general, is a mix of traditional and modern. You get the more artsy stuff...