A look inside Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, London.
Just a few minutes walk away from Brick Lane, London, Shoreditch is home to one of Britain’s most unique cafés: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. For those of you who are cat lovers, this will be an absolute dream for you: not only do you get to natter with you friends over a lovely hot drink and slice of cake, but you can do all of this in the company of several furry friends.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Emporium in January this year with my mum and sister. My sister and I had seen the café advertised on a Facebook pop-up a few months ago and thought it would be the ‘purrfect’ gift for our cat-crazy mum.
From the outside, the café looks like any regular coffee shop: a couple of barristers making several delicious hot drinks from those listed on the handwritten chalk boards behind them. However, upon entering the café, it is clear that the experience isn’t going to be just your everyday Costa catch-up. The café is hosted by a lovely team of staff who are both organised and occupy a genuine admiration for cats. The staff are responsible for outlining the health and safety guidelines and guiding visitors to the central café where the cats are: some on chairs, some playing with toys, some strolling around, and others making use of the fantastic environment that has been designed for them.
A tasty collection of cakes and scones including a great selection for gluten-free and vegan eaters.
The layout of the shop features an Alice in Wonderland theme including a large tree sculpture with a hanging bridge (the sleeping spot of the largest cat in the café), a flower-styled bed stand and even a ‘cat’ wheel (similar to those found in a hamster’s cage!). The experience includes choosing a cat-themed drink from a menu including drinks such as a 'cattachino, moccat and iced catte' which can be enjoyed whilst watching the cats go about their daily adventures. Visitors are also provided with toys to tempt the cats over with-although luck with these aren’t guaranteed once it’s the cats’ meal time.
The best part of the visit has to of been meeting the biggest and cuddliest cat of the bunch (Wookie) who is two times the size of my regular cat at home! Equally, the atmosphere inside the café was pleasant as everyone was so engaged with the cats and the rooms never got too loud due to our collective fear of waking the sleepy felines. It was an hour I wish could have lasted the entire day.
Wookie the ginormous cat!
Whilst at the café, we also got talking to one of the waiters who revealed the heartwarming story behind the cats' arrivals at Lady Dinah’s. The cats are rescue animals from local areas which have been brought in, re-stabilised and given a permanent home. Additionally, since following the Emporium’s social media sites, I have discovered that their care and adoration of cats is not merely confined to this one area.
At the start of April 2018, Lady Dinah’s further extended their feline support to the island of Skiathos in Greece as part of their cooperation with the Skiathos Cats Welfare Association (SCWA). The programme was established to help the hundreds of cats living on the island who are currently in desperate need of land, isolation units for sick cats and neutering facilities. Mona and Laura, representatives for Lady Dinah’s, visited the island to witness the problem first hand. They expressed that when first seeing the cats, “it was a lot to take in”. Whilst on the island they visited the SCWA’s site: the home of member, Sharon, who currently has 200 cats living in her home. Mona also commented that in a similar way to the experience at Lady Dinah’s, “the most rewarding part of the volunteering was seeing how much every little gesture and affection matters to these cats”: making the visit a rewarding, but emotional experience. Despite their first visit being only the foundation of their support of the charity, the two intend to revisit the site, meanwhile raising awareness of the need for shelter, veterinary care and safe living spaces for these cats.
Visiting the Shoreditch Emporium for a cup of tea and a cat cuddle made my day in itself, but knowing that my visit may be one small step in the leap towards helping cats in need across the world, is utterly fulfilling.
All tickets have to be purchased online beforehand as the café is so popular, however if you have the opportunity to go, I’d highly recommend doing so as a birthday gift for mum, or day out with a couple of friends this year. Additionally, if you would like to find out more about the work that SCWA do or would like to donate to the charity, you can also visit their website.