Kitty Cafe, Nottingham

12 June 2015

I’m not sure a scale even exists that could measure how excited I was when I found out a cat cafe was opening less than an hour away from where I live. I've become somewhat of a crazy cat lady in training recently so any place that actually sees that as a good thing, is a place I want to be. And as I've mentioned in the past, I'm not the only cat lover around so when mine and Dave's anniversary rolled around last month I couldn’t think of a better reason to visit. Our shared love of both food and cats are pretty big parts of our relationship, so combining the two seemed a perfect way to mark the occasion.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Kitty Café, as my only comparison point was Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium which we visited for Dave’s birthday earlier in the year. I’m going to start by saying they’re both very different, and I don’t think this is a bad thing, and I don't really know what the ‘norm’ for these venues is at this point since the concept is so new to the UK.

Rather than a separate reception area, the entrance to the Kitty Café is through two glass doors, with a small walkway in between. The second door has to be opened from the inside by staff, to make sure no eager kitties can run off outside. I of course didn’t read any of the signs and tried to open the inside door from the outside looking like a total idiot before we’d even got fully inside the building. Once inside we were asked to read the rules of the cafe, which are all very similar to those at Lady Dinah’s and are just to ensure the welfare and comfort of the cats, and to pay the welfare charge (this is £5 per person on weekends which is when we visited). I’m not sure if asking guests to read the rules while they wait was really working on this particular day because on the table next to us alone I saw 3 different rules broken just during our 1 hour visit, but I’m hoping this isn’t usually the case or that they might consider giving a verbal briefing to guests in future.

It took a little while to get our table ready, it was a Saturday afternoon and they were very busy but we were allowed to have a little walk around while we waited which was much nicer than sitting in a reception although it was quite crowded. The space is much bigger than I expected, and the large windows and bright decor make for a really fun and welcoming atmosphere. They’ve created what seems like an enormous playground for the cats, with tunnels and climbing/scratching posts twisting throughout the building. There are so many little spaces for them to hide or explore, it kind of made me wish I was a cat (or a child again, seriously, why are there no playgrounds for grown ups?). 

Another big different between Kitty Café and Lady Dinah’s is the number of cats, as the place is much bigger there are more cats here and with Kitty Café being newer the cats were also (mostly) a lot younger. Many of the cats at Kitty Café are currently looking for their 'forever homes' as they work with a shelter, whereas Lady Dinah’s have their own family of cats who live at the cafe permanently, so the cats that are there will probably change if you visit more than once. I think there are definitely pros and cons to both of these approaches so I’m not going to try and say one is better, but they do give different experiences and atmospheres to the cafes which is worth knowing before you plan your visits. 

We seemed to have timed our visit to the Kitty Café a lot better than our last cat cafe experience as most of the cats were actually awake this time. As most of them were quite young they were really playful too, although they were very energetic and it did make moving around the cafe a very delicate process. We were allocated a table for all our food and drink during our visit but otherwise allowed to move around as much as we wanted and within minutes of being sat down one of the cats had already come to explore before sitting down under our table for a rest.

The menu at Kitty Café is huge. And I really mean huge. The teas basically have a whole menu all to themselves and we didn’t even get a chance to look at dessert. With the visits only being an hour in length and wanting to leave optimum time for cat cuddles, we kept our order relatively simple, some soft drinks and then a pizza to share. There’s a lot of choice on the pizza menu and you can customise them as much as you like, so we decided to go for pepperoni with pesto as our toppings. I know this isn’t going to be the reason anyone visits but the pizza actually was really good. It was a little greasy but I think this was probably the pestos fault rather than the actual pizza base. But otherwise I was really impressed, they could have gotten away with serving basic hot drinks and a couple of sandwiches but instead they’ve created a great menu that’s diverse enough that everyone will be able to find something they like. It’s not the best food I’ve ever had in my life, but they’ve definitely done a really good job.

They’ve thought of everything too as they have nets and umbrellas that you can use to cover the food from any sneaky cats. This is probably for the best as one guy in particular was very good at trying to get into people’s meals or drinks while we were there and they really shouldn’t be eating people foods. Luckily for us the only cat at our table was too busy getting comfy underneath to be interested in our pizza, although I wouldn’t have been sharing my slices anyway, even if pizza was the only thing cats could eat because it was too good not to eat all to myself.

It was then back to playtime, and a few of the more excitable kittens took an interest in us (mostly the toys we were holding but I’m sure they liked us really). It didn’t exactly make for a peaceful end to our meal but it was definitely an enjoyable experience. The cats all seemed to get on really well with each other too. I know this is something that critics of the cafes have said wouldn’t be the case, but they were cuddling and playing with each other a lot. The kittens did playfight a bit but it was obviously harmless and nothing to worry about from what I saw.

I was really sad to be leaving at the end of our visit (an hour did not feel long enough at all) but I was generally really impressed with the Kitty Café. It’s an experience I’d definitely recommend to any cat lovers and definitely a more unique way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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