Let's face it, it's universal - kittens are adorable, and the prospect of a kitten café has many guests cooing at the thought. But what about us? It's no secret that we occasionally have kittens, but why do we not necessarily call ourselves a kitten café?
Recently, we've found that a lot of cat lovers who have visited (or are thinking of visiting) the Cat Emporium are asking one question: does Lady Dinah's have a kitten room? This, as far as we understand it, is an area in a cat café that is reserved exclusively for kittens. It's where resident kittens interact with guests as well as where they live when guests have gone home.
The short answer to the question above is no, we do not have a kitten room at Lady Dinah's, even though we do have kittens from time to time.
Our entire cafe is a kitten AND cat room
The difference between us and some other cat cafés is that we don't keep our kittens separate from our adult cats once we feel that they're ready to engage with guests. So, really, our entire café is a kitten AND cat room! Well, technically this would be more than one room, since the Emporium is spread across two floors.
3 benefits of keeping our kittens with our cafe cats
1. Re-homing cats vs kittens
Our goal is ultimately to find all of our rescue cats and kittens good homes after their time at the Emporium.
Not having a dedicated kitten room, for which we would need a fairly steady supply of kittens (bearing in mind that kittens grow up!), enables us to prioritise the needs of cats who may not find a home as quickly as kittens typically do.
In other words, while we do take in kittens fairly often, the fact that we don't have a kitten room means that we haven't promised to always have kittens, and this gives us more space for the older cats who may be less likely to be adopted directly from a shelter..
2. Our adult cats help our kittens
We're firm believers that for kittens, there's no better teacher than... another cat!
We've found that mingling our kittens and cats benefits all of the moggies in our care. The adult cats help to socialise the little ones so that they know how to behave as part of a colony and also among humans, and the kittens can be so rambunctious that they either make great playmates for our more energetic older cats, or they keep our guests entertained in the moments where some of our adult cats may appreciate a rest from receiving lots of attention.
3. From friends to family
It's heart-warming to watch our kittens and cats bonding with each other. While the make-up of our colony changes from time to time as we find forever homes for our feline charges, we always seem to have one adult cat who particularly enjoys making newbies feel welcome.
In previous years, one of our original kittens, Donnie, grew to become the café's patriarch, or the self-appointed big brother to any young newbies in the Emporium. Donnie would play with any of our new kittens, and was quick to teach them what's what and help them to find their feet in the cafe.
Donnie has since retired from cafe life, but currently, that role is being fulfilled by Daz, who can often be seen sharing a bed, blanket or toy with a young friend.
In fact, two of our previous fosters, Jack & Daniels, were notoriously shy as kittens. They only found their courage after making friends with Daz, and were often seen following him around like love-struck puppies even in their adulthood...
Our history of kittens
When Lady Dinah's opened in 2014, it was the first cat café to house cats in the United Kingdom. Since then, we've had plenty of experience with helping rescue cats and kittens to feel at home with us.
Not only have we fostered and adopted kittens from cat shelters, we've also reared multiple litters after taking in pregnant cats. If you've been coming to the Cat Emporium for a while, you may remember Mama Mue (the original queen of the café) and her babies! Mue and her beautiful offspring made up a large part of our original clowder. Mama Mue's kittens all grew up in the cafe, and have since found forever homes.
How do we prepare kittens for cafe life?
We keep our kittens away from the public-facing areas of the Emporium when they're really little, as we want to get to know them and we need to ensure that they've received all of their vaccinations before they start meeting lots of people.
Once it becomes evident that they're keen to explore the main areas of the café, we supervise their first interactions with our grown-up cats. It doesn't typically take a long time before the kittens feel confident enough to spend all of their time out of isolation.