UK Cat Cafes Part I: The North

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With one of the strongest animal welfare cultures around, British citizens have a lot to be proud of when it comes to well-loved kitties and now you have one more reason:  your cat cafes are of such high quality that your nation takes the (virtual) award for 'Best Cat Cafe Country'.  

I've lived in Great Britain before, so I can't say I was totally surprised, but it's quite impressive that you have so many that are so good. 

The Neighbor's Cat visited twelve UK cat cafes in November, 2017 and will present three reviews split into North, Midlands and South.  

Let's begin our journey in the North, where I was mightily impressed with the following feline-focused facilities.

Window Wonderland:  The Cat in the Window

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The minute I entered The Cat in the Window Cafe, I knew I had found a winner.

Not that I give out awards, (hey, now that's an idea...) but if I did, this one would take the UK top prize.  

They excel is all the areas we rate here at The Neighbor's Cat.  A beautiful, feline-focused space.  Gorgeous cats with personality to spare.  Staff that are delightfully engaging.  Coffee and dessert that are incredibly tasty.  On this last point, you must understand that as the home of Spotted Dick, Trifle and other Sad-Excuses-For-Pudding, Britain is not known for deliciously decadent desserts and even if it was, I wouldn't expect to find it in Aberdeen.

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Aberdeen, Scotland is decidedly 'out of the way' and my journey to The Cat in the Window was far from easy, but anyone that resolves to visit every cat cafe in the world had better have enough fortitude to take on a 14 hour travel day.  However, the long journey was quickly forgotten when I stepped in the door at 4 pm.  The cafe observes a 'cat nap' between 2:30 and 4 pm daily and because of this, I could literally feel the calm as the kitties began to stretch out of their sleeping spots and sniff the visitors.  

The cats, nine in total are a mixture of pedigreed and rescued.  I was particularly smitten with Drago, a handsome Asian Smoke, Napolean, a Persian pretty boy and Princess Pancake, an Exotic with impossibly soft fur.  These three were particularly social and curious the day I visited.  Interestingly, nearly all of the cats are two years old, the same age as the cafe.  They were raised together in order to foster a cohesive and well-socialized clowder, which in my view has been a successful strategy!

In between playing and eating, I simply enjoyed just sitting in the pretty and comfortable space with the dark floors nicely offset by warm wood, shearling throws and pink accents.  It would be the perfect place to catch up with a dear friend over tea.

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Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the lovely staff member that was working the day I visited.  My experience was greatly enhanced due to her warm welcome and it was clear how much she loved the cats as she told me stories about their various personalities.  

The Cat in the Window is a wonderful cat cafe and I highly recommend making the journey to Aberdeen to enjoy their fine Northern hospitality. 

For full cafe details, click here.

Maison de Cute:  Maison de Moggy

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I adore Scotland and Edinburgh in particular.

The history.  The stunning landscape.  The cultural activities.  Even the most cynical Brit, who mock UK cities like it was the national sport, can only laud Edinburgh as 'lovely'.

But I was delighted to discover that not only does this loveliness extend to the city's cat cafe, Maison de Moggy, but they also have the most beautiful cat cafe cats in the UK.

Everywhere I looked, there was a cat so pretty, I had to control the urge to jump up and down and squeal with giddy delight.  Just when I thought it couldn't get any cuter, I learned that, in keeping with the cafe theme, they all have a French name.

Let's see, there is Guillaume (the best cat name EVER), a Chinchilla Persian ball of floof, Jacques, a regal white Norwegian Forest Cat, Marcel & Philippe, adorable Bengal/Siamese brothers and Amelie, a stunning Ragdoll.  However, my favorite was Sebastian, a chubby ginger British Shorthair that, like so many before me, captured my heart in an instant, but alas, didn't return my feelings.  Such is the life of a cat lover.  

While the cats are star-worthy, that's not to say Maison de Moggy slouch in other departments.  Despite being a hugely popular cafe with lots of visitors (which can occasionally lead to a decline in quality) there were a several things that impressed me.  One, the facility is in great shape with plenty of cute corners to catch up with a friend and two, the staff are kind and try to deliver a personal experience, which I suspect must be difficult to maintain with the steady stream of guests day in and day out.  Kudos to the Maison de Moggy personnel for the warm welcome and great service!

Lastly, we found our refreshments (latte, tea and brownie) to be of excellent quality, although I found it tough to sit and savor since I was so busy checking out the cats- and an hour goes by very quickly!

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Edinburgh is a world-class tourist destination with activities that could keep one busy for months, however Maison de Moggy delivers an experience worthy of this amazing Scottish city, so be sure and put it on your list (and make a reservation!).

For full cafe details, click here.

Mognificent:  Mog on the Tyne

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Katie is exactly the type of person you hope to meet when visiting a cat cafe.

While I almost always get warm fuzzies from the kitties, I don't always experience the same from their human carers, but Katie is different. 

She was meant to own a cat cafe and I especially love how Mog on the Tyne matches up with her personality- a little bit of quirky, a lot of friendly and completely delightful!

We were lucky that we visited late morning on a weekday as it provided lots of time to chat with Katie and get the low-down on her cafe.  

In addition to having been open for three years, one of the first in the UK, eight cats are currently in residence, all rescues, including cuties Gary, Gladys and Gizmo.  However, I couldn't help being smitten by Stan.  He was hit by a car which broke his jaw, causing his tongue to permanently stick out, but rather than being a negative, it has made him one of the most popular cats in town!  Katie knows her charges well and rehomes any moggies (a popular term for a cat in the UK) that aren't loving the cafe environment.  Her compassion for felines is so great, there is a project in the works to rescue two special needs cats from Thailand!

In between helping out with treat time and chatting about all things cat cafe, we also managed to order a latte, tea, sandwich and brownie.  They were all lovely, but the brownie was especially delicious!

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Near the end of our time, we learned about all the events that they host- craft nights, game nights, etc.  

It wasn't until after our visit that our friends in Peterborough pointed out how the name 'Mog on the Tyne' (Newcastle is situated on the Tyne River) is a play on the popular song by Lindisfarne, Fog on the Tyne.  Being American, I missed it completely, but somehow it was fitting that I discovered yet another reason to love Mog on the Tyne.

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With Katie and her kitties, you never know what surprises will be in store. 

For full cafe details, click here.

Pawsome:  CatPawCino

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I already liked Newcastle before my recent visit, but discovering two solid cat cafes has cat-apulted it to the top of my 'Favorite UK Cities' list!

CatPawCino is a lovely space in a fabulous location overlooking the River Tyne near Gateshead Millennium Bridge, called 'Quayside' in the UK.   The owner, a cat-loving young woman originally from China, opened the cafe two years ago.  It is modeled after a typical Asian cat cafe, where shoes are removed before entering the cat room and the feline residents are gorgeous and pedigreed. 

The owner wasn't there the day we visited, but we received a very warm welcome from the friendly host who kindly explained the rules before showing us inside.  I was impressed by this particular staff member as she answered all of my questions and took the time to show guests how the various cats like to play.  

Speaking of kitties, nine gorgeous felines call CatPawCino home, including two that were up for adoption the day I visited, a pair of energetic black kittens, Barney and Bertie.  They have since found their forever homes (hooray!) and two new kittens have joined the crew.  The remaining cats belong to the owner, pedigreed cuties that make for entertaining cat-watching.  They include Alfie, a huge Ragdoll, Flora, a chubby British shorthair, Darvin, a rare Red Point Birman and my favorite, Hugo, an impish ginger Exotic that I found irresistible as evidenced by the enormous number of photos I snapped of him.

I'm really a fan of this type of cat cafe set up, with a combination of rescued and pedigreed cats, as 'posh' cats tend to be little less social while rescued moggies lean closer to the friendly and curious side.  This balance of beauty and playfulness creates an experience that most guests will find satisfying.  While I know this seems like a huge generalization, after 126 cat cafe visits, I find it pretty close to reality.  

My partner and I ordered coffee and split a Malteaser tray bake, both of which were delicious.  The cafe offers a variety of beverages (including a large selection of Chinese teas) and snacks.  If you are still hungry, there is a bistro downstairs that is cat-free and serves a more substantial Asian menu.

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If pressed, I would have a hard time picking my favorite Newcastle cat cafe as both have their own unique style and personality.  What I will say is that cat lovers in Newcastle are awfully lucky to have two fantastic choices!

For full cafe details, click here.

The Neighbor’s Cat is the alter ego of Paula LaBine, an itinerant cat lover who writes about cat cafes, cat travel and rescue/adoption.  She is visiting every cat cafĂ© in the world, 199 in 29 countries so far!   Find her at theneighborscat.com or on Facebook/Twitter @catcafeviews.