The onslaught of exam stress (feat tears and spots) has meant that my first blog post is well overdue. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to look too closely to find that there is a Christmas tree in my photos. However, if there is any motto that I live by it’s “better late than never”. When it comes to cats, I feel that there is never a bad time for discussion. Especially when they’re as cute as the ones in ‘Cat Cafe’.
The ‘Cat Cafe‘ is situated on High St, Manchester, in one of the many nooks of Northern Quarter. Among it’s neighbours are award winning ‘Sweet Mandarin’ and popular burrito bar ‘Luck, Lust, Liqueur and Burn’, which becomes increasingly convenient if you get hungry from excitement. What is also convenient is this section of Northern Quarter’s proximity to both Shudehill bus station and the city centre. Placed on the corner, a little further up from Bluu bar, this cafe is rather easy to find and all the more easier with Google Maps. This is a feat that becomes all the more impressive when you come to realise that Northern Quarter is, basically, a labyrinth.
My initial thoughts when walking into the building itself were whether I was going to see some cats or whether I should have brought one with me. With wooden chairs adorning the wall, a reception desk at the far end and a noticeboard featuring ‘cats looking for homes’, my first impression was that I’d accidentally walked into a vets’. Although, this waiting room and the process of putting ones belongings in swimming pool lockers seemed clinical at first, the logicality became apparent once I ventured down the corridor and through the gate into kitty heaven. To greet me through this door was the pleasant invitation of cushion laden sofas, sleeping cats and the placement of several scratch posts that made me feel like I was in my own living room- minus the strangers.
Before entering the cafe bit, customers are asked to either take their shoes off and place them in the provided lockers, or put plastic coverings over them. Although I’m not too sure whether customers are required to put their bags in the locker, when a locker is there I always feel expected to do so? This is something that doesn’t much matter until you remember that you’ve left something in it. Silly me. Nevertheless, walking around the cafe in just my socks was rather liberating and only added to the homely aesthetic. My fellow customers are lucky that I didn’t forget where I was and whip off my sweatpants. Lol. I don’t really do that…often. Anyway, although the cafe was undoubtedly spacious, it still felt cosy and relaxed. I think that this is predominately due to the ‘one in, one out’ policy the cafe has that is similar to popular nightclubs. This is, of course, to ensure that the cats don’t get scared. In any case, it was hard not to feel at ease here.
This was an easiness only enhanced by the contrast of warmth inside and the coldness outside. Two of the walls of the cafe are, in fact, windows and really add to the atmosphere. It was within the compounds of these walls that I felt ensnared in the safe innards of a snow-globe. For me, time stood still and I was a world away from the mundane. I sound all too poetic but let’s recall that I was weighed down by the woes of exams. Indeed, as the snow fell outside, it was nice to have such a large view of the world trudging by outside and gave me ample vision to people watch- my favourite pastime. May I also mention, that these are also windows that allow you to feel smug when passersby nosy in on you lounging in content. Making people feel a teeny bit jealous is just an innate guilty pleasure isn’t it? It didn’t make me want to leave any less when I discovered that hot drinks were refillable. In fact, hot drinks are refillable and you can, even, order chai tea latte’s. I was lying when I said it was like my home…it’s better.
What are the catches, I hear you ask? Well, if I’m being honest, I felt as if I spent more time waiting and looking for the cats than I did with the cats. Cats by nature are independent creatures so one can’t blame the cafe itself for the inclinations of its animals. However, it grew rather tiresome that despite the rules stating that customers were not allowed to bother the cats whilst sleeping, some of the customers did and, therefore, got a lot more one-to-one time with them. Similarly, one of the cat carers gave some unusual kitty-kat treats to some customers and not others which lead to a great amount of jealousy on my part. In short, there is a lot of looking evilly at everyone that has a cat apart from yourself. To me, at least, the treat thing didn’t seem fair considering we were all paying for our time there. This is £1 every 5 minutes, in case you were wondering- students get 10% discount.
In any case, I by no means intend to sound grumpy about this observation as the likelihood is that due to the time of day (the rear end of the opening times, which are 9am-7pm) many of the cats were already sleepier than their already sleepy selves. Furthermore, as the cats are so well-trained, it is unreasonable to feel disappointed that they prefer the person *the carers* that give them food more than you. Even I prefer people that give me food. However, I would suggest, perhaps, going in the early afternoon and making a booking on the Cat Cafe website, as I know many friends whom had lots of kitty cuddling and I myself did get to brush fingers with Fluffy. The Cat Cafe also runs several events— with limited spaces — such as movie nights and yoga. This is a lovely alternative to a fleeting visit and gives you something to do while you wait for snugs.
Conclusively, like a warm cup of cocoa on a cold day, ‘Cat Cafe’ gives its visitors home comforts like no other. With plushy carpets, furry friends and over-sized sofas, this cafe provided me with the purrrfect antidote to workday stress.