We have living, breathing, feeling animals in our cafe, and we care about how they enjoy their lives with us.
We are very proud of our cats and want you to experience their wonderful personalities at their best. We believe our duty is to ensure they are happy first and foremost, so that they in turn will share genuine happy moments with you.
These rules, which may seem stern at first, are fundamentally about protecting the cats and making sure they are in an environment where they feel safe enough to give you their very best. We see our job as creating that ideal environment and we truly want you to have a good time. However, that isn't up to just us! All our guests affect your experience in the Cat Emporium, including yourself.
On this page we have two lists: Rules, which are an absolute no-no at the Cat Emporium; and Recommendations, which will help you have a better experience.
No children under 12
Kids get pretty excited in a room full of cats. It's just how they are, and we can't blame them: but we can't let them in either. Kids have a habit of spooking the cats and we won't make any exceptions, so please don't ask.
No large groups > 6 guests
Large groups in the cafe have historically had a negative impact on the experience of other guests and have spooked the cats, so we had to put a limit in place.
Large groups are louder, tend to block high-traffic areas (so we can't serve you quickly) and drive the cats into hiding.
It's nobody's fault - people are just naturally louder when there's more of them together and take up more space.
We're a small cafe, designed for relaxation: we're not suitable for parties. We do offer private hire, so if you really want to visit as a large group, you can book out the entire cafe and spread out a bit. The cats will like it more and you wont upset any other guests.
Please don't try to bypass this rule by placing multiple bookings. It's a small cafe - we will spot it when we build the table plan in the morning, and we talk to every group and guest during their visit. We'll notice.
If your group exceeds our group size, you may be refused entry at the door, or you may have one of your bookings cancelled if we spot it on the booking system in advance.
Because of the profoundly negative effect large groups have on cats and guests, we won't make any exceptions, so please don't ask.
Do not stroke sleeping cats or attempt to wake them up with noises or movement
This is one of those rules that is worth following for the cat's sake, and also your own.
Our cats meet a lot of people and need their sleep. If they are repeatedly woken up 'just once' by 50 people, that's 50 times they've been woken up when sleeping. Imagine that at home in your bed! 50 times! With that lack of sleep, you'd get sick, tired, and you'd probably hate everyone.
If you make attempts to wake a sleeping cat, there's only one thing that you'll get: A grumpy cat that doesn't like you. It's really not worth doing it.
Please resist the temptation. Even if your cat at home likes a cuddle while snoozing: your cat at home doesn't live in a cat cafe. It's really unkind to take away their right to sleep uninterrupted. We view it as a selfish act - and a little cruel, to be frank - when people break this rule.
Do not feed the cats any of your food
First of all - some human food is poisonous to cats. Cats shouldn't have chocolates or raisins and a number of other foods that humans like to eat. Even your coffee contains Theobromine, which is fatal to cats and dogs, even in small quantities.
Secondly - even if it's not poisonous, it mightn't be safe to eat for other reasons. Cats eating high-sugar and processed foods will develop problems with their teeth, organs and weight.
Thirdly - if a cat eats some human food that disagrees with it, unfortunately, you'll know about it too. Our cafe has litter trays scattered about and hidden away, and cats have a 30-minute gastric response. If a cat eats something that gives it the runs (and most human foods will), you may find it's not only the cat who suffers if you feed them something you shouldn't.
Do not pick up, confine or restrain the cats
This is one that many people are dismayed about - you can not pick up and hold our cats. This is all about respecting the freedom and choices of the animal, and it's also about how we want them to feel and behave in the future.
We believe it's a universal fact that very few cats in this world enjoy being picked up by people they don't know.
If our cats lived in a world where, at any time, any person can pick them up and restrict their choices, there are 2 guaranteed outcomes:
- Anxious, nervous cats
- Cats who avoid people
Our guests are part of our cats ongoing behavioural conditioning, so how you treat them will absolutely affect their behaviour. The more respectful guests are of the cats, the friendlier and more outgoing the cats are.
Few things will upset a cat more than being pinned down, backed into a corner, held or in any way confined. They will not like you if you do this and will refuse to play with you and will refuse to let you cuddle them. It's the absolute worst way to try and build a bond with them and guaranteed to fail.
You also will affect the behaviour of other cats - they are always watching. We have seen it many times, if a guest is too intense, they all disappear and they don't come out for anyone (even us) until that person leaves. Our cats are very clever little munchkins and they won't put up with someone who does things to them that they don't like.
No Flash Photography
Cats have thousands more light receptors in their eyes than we do. What's a simple camera flash for us is a blindingly bright and sudden light for them and way more distressing and uncomfortable.
You may find even now that the cats will turn their heads away from cameras, even with the flash off. It's because they don't like the red focus lights that some cameras have.
You're welcome to take photos, of course, but the flash absolutely must be off, and if you can turn off the red focus light as well, you'll have a much better chance of getting a good photo.
From time to time we've had photographers ask to bring in a light - this is fine! Just so long as it isn't a flashing light, a constant light will be ok, as it gives their eyes time to adjust. If you're a photographer and want to book a photoshoot with the cafe empty, check out our private hire rates for out-of-hours access.
Here's a few things that might help you with the cats
Listen to the Cat Carer
There's always a cat care team member dedicated to looking after the cats and you on shift. They know what toys, foods, play techniques and petting our cats like best and they very much want you and the cats to have a good time!
It's surprisingly difficult to play with 17 cats at once, and if the cats don't get the playtime and affection they need from guests in the daytime, they'll need the cat carer to work doubletime to give them the attention they need after hours! So they want to make sure you get the cats all tuckered out and happy, otherwise they'll have to do it all themselves!
Pick your moments
We see guest sometimes trying to pet cats who are grooming, walking away, taking photos of the cats when they're using litter boxes, or touching the cats faces when they're eating a treat. These things don't harm the cats, but they don't bring out their best either.
It's good to pick your moments - if the cat isn't looking at you and can't see you coming, or they're engaged in another activity, we recommend making sure you've made eye contact with the cat before moving toward them.
Toys in the face isn't a play technique for cats
Cats have great mid-to-long range eyesight and even better hearing. If you're moving a toy anywhere in the cafe and they're not engaged with it, it's most likely because they don't want to play with it at that time.
We sometimes see people trying to make sure the cat 'sees' a toy by putting it on the cats head or close in their face. Truth is - cats really aren't into that and actually, they see it less well when it's close to their face.
Cats have terrible short-range eyesight, that's why they have whiskers to held them sense things close to their face. Placing a toy on their head or dangling it super-close to their face will do the exact opposite of what you're hoping for!
Moreover, as hunters, cats enjoy a challenge! A mouse never dangles itself willingly in a cats face - it runs under furniture, up poles, under rugs. Move the toy like a mouse or a bird and you will bring out the hunter in our cats.
The Cat Carer is there to help you find the right toy and technique to play. With the right toy & cat combo, you can swoosh a toy around on the floor downstairs and a cat will hear it from upstairs and come running down - they definitely know when a toy they like is in play and will get involved in a game from time to time.