I am officially a ‘cat lady’.
Not a hardcore one – we have two cats, no more than that. And I may indulge them a little bit (one of them loves eating the leaves off roses, so I buy a bunch regularly) but I don’t dress them up, take them for walks, or feed them a faddy diet.
That said, I’m more likely to get broody over a little fluffball than I am a baby. Sorry.
Maybe it’s because as a child we weren’t allowed pets. The closest I had was a goldfish in the pond outside – then eventually we progressed to hamsters, but it took all four of us asking, and it was at some reluctance.
Well, this was the case until my younger sister (a consistent rule breaker who got away with it all the damn time because she’s my dad’s favourite) had pet rats which she kept in her bedroom.
Mum and dad didn’t know for months. Well, I suspect mum did, but even she knew that if anyone was going to get away with it (or her tattoos, or her ear piercings, or her going out onto the park and getting pissed) it was our kid.
For me, it’s always been cats. I love dogs, and could cuddle them for hours, but I adore the independence of cats. Their aloof nature, their lack of need of you. I can’t decide if it’s because I’m a bit of a masochist, or just appreciate that they and I are pretty similar – excepting fur, pointed ears and paws, obviously.
Or maybe it’s because I too would love to spend my day snuggled up snoozing, only waking up to play, eat – or stretch and go back to sleep.
So a visit to a Cat Cafe was always going to be on my forty before forty. Not only because it was achievable, but well, cats. Two cats at home is great. More cats are of course even better.
Manchester Cat Cafe is in the northerly reaches of the Northern Quarter. You can book online (for a specified amount of time) or walk in – but do be prepared to wait. It costs £12 per person for an hour (you can go over this of course, but it will cost more), and this includes all drinks. Food is extra and paid when you leave.
There are, as you’d expect, a few rules. Do not feed the cats – they have food pods dotted around and can just help themselves as and when they’re peckish. Don’t pick them up. Do not disturb them if they are sleeping. Don’t use flash photography. Most of them are pretty common sense and mean the cats have the most comfortable experience they can.
Rules agreed to, you pop your shoes in a locker (or put plastic booties over them) and then it’s simple. Order a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable and chill out on a big squishy sofa.
That in itself is blissful. But all around you are gorgeous puss-cats, snoozing, playing, purring.
It all adds to an atmosphere of total relaxation. Even if it weren’t for the cats, I’d still happily pop in for an hour after a busy day and relax. As a friend commented, if you’re at home the washing is waiting for you, the ironing, your emails. Here, there’s nothing to disturb you, so you can sit on the floor and cuddle a cat, or just smoosh on the sofa with a book.
Of course the cats do not actually care about what you do (unless you break the aforementioned rules, of course). They will snooze, cuddle and play as they please, and that’s the point. I’ve head those suggesting that it’s cruel, or that their lives are similar to that in a zoo.
I can tell you as a cat owner of some 13 years, that cats will generally do what they want when they want and your plans do not factor into it in any way. The cats at the Cafe have escape options if they’ve had enough. If they don’t like you, they will walk away. Sure people come and go, and change around possibly more often than, say I have friends round at my place. But the staff there are consistent, so it’s not always new faces, and new people. And of course their cat family remains stable too.
As a confirmed cat lover, I love it at the Cafe. And not only because of the cats (I’m slightly in love with the oh so aloof it’s perfect Georgina. And the cross eyed Bert. Oh and fluffball Ygritte. But more than that, it’s an incredibly relaxed place to go and take some time out.
Then maybe you can join Keira for a nap.