What?: As a cat fan I was ridiculously excited about Whiskers & Cream, a new cat cafe that welcomes children and is a 25-minute walk from our front door. We’d been to Dinah’s Cat Emporium in Shoreditch (a strictly under-12s-free zone) a few years ago and found the whole experience ridiculous: the staff all wore white coats and wandered around trailing feathers on sticks in an attempt to coax the cats out from their hiding places, which we, by the way, were absolutely under no circumstances allowed to do, having been given a lecture on how to behave around cats on the door before being watched while we washed our hands. Convinced that that was just the deal with UK cat cafes, I feared Whiskers & Cream might follow similarly batshit policies, but thankfully their admissions routine simply involved skim-reading a disclaimer and spritzing your palms with antibac, which felt like a more appropriate preparation for entering a cat cafe, as opposed to being de-loused prior to beginning a prison sentence.
The cafe’s admission fee includes one hot or cold drink per person, so we ordered a latte and an apple juice. The menu also includes afternoon teas with both vegetarian and vegan options, as well as locally baked pastries and a sizeable drinks selection. I didn’t particularly want to spend more than the £17 I’d already coughed up, which sounds huffy but I genuinely didn’t mind paying it because I know a lot of it goes towards looking after the cats. We recently took our cat to the vet and spent nearly £200 on medication to treat a nasty bout of cystitis, so I know how much looking after animals costs. To be totally honest I even wonder if £10 per person is enough to cover the cost of cat food, litter and veterinary care for eight cats, never mind paying staff wages and still making a profit at the end of it, but on a personal and deeply selfish level £17 still felt like enough to pay for a 90-minute activity.
On arrival we were greeted by a friendly front-of-house staff member before being introduced to another lady on the other side of the airlock (because nobody wants their cats wandering off down Holloway Road), who looked after us for the remainder of our visit. Clearly her primary function was cat welfare, but she was so lovely and knowledgable about the cats it felt more like she’d been planted with the sole purpose of making us feel at home. The cats were of course all absolute babes, with favourites including Maine Coon brothers Jack and Jasper, and a Devon Rex called Trixie, who I’m obsessed with. One cat, a white tabby called Vanilla, isn’t a massive child fan, having had bad experiences with kids in the past, but otherwise they’re all totally fine for little ones to approach, provided they don’t poke them in the bum or pick them up when they’re asleep or anything, obviously.
The cafe itself is beautiful – really clean and spacious with plenty for the cats to do. It’s arranged over two floors, with tables on both as well as cat climbing walls, scratchers, bed trees, play cubes, feline water play (it’s a thing, apparently) and baskets full of cat toys that you’re free to use yourself. Litter trays are located in a separate annexe that’s only accessible to cats (via an electronic cat flap) and staff, so they get some privacy whilst keeping the cafe hygienic and smell-free. I was also super-impressed by the mega-clean customer toilets, which not only had baby-change facilities but a big basket full of nappies, wipes and sanitary supplies. Basically, don’t hesitate about bringing little ones here. I’d had doubts for months and put off bringing Babu because of our pre-kids experience at Lady Dinah’s, but this place really couldn’t be more welcoming. I have a feeling it won’t be as popular as its contemporary because of its less trendy setting, but that’s all the more reason for us all to get down there with our kids.
Where?: Whiskers and Cream is located at 593 Holloway Road, a two-minute walk from Upper Holloway Overground station.
Best Bits: The cats of course. It has to be the cats.
Worst Bits: Spenny (but justified).
Facilities: Baby changing, step-free access.
Price: 90 minutes of cat time costs £10 per adult and £7 per child, which also includes a hot or cold drink.
Would We Come Back?: Of course. Also we got a loyalty card so…
Babu becomes one with the cats at Whiskers and Cream, Holloway.