I really enjoy giving my children kids experiences that they couldn’t get at home, whether it’s trampolining (although they do often turn their bedrooms into a makeshift trampoline park), swimming (again, ditto turning the bath into a pool) or going to the theatre. So when they asked to go across to the Kitty Cafe in Leeds, I was dubious. With two cats in the house, we’re used to eating our breakfast with our feline friends eyeing up the milk in the cereal bowl or sitting by the table trying to catch flying grated cheese at lunchtime. Would it really be worth catching the train to pay for the privilege of having more cats eyeing up our food? I wasn’t sure.
But it was three-against-one and I was curious, so we booked a table and headed over to Leeds to check out the Kitty Cafe. As a side note, you might be wondering why we didn’t just go to the cat cafe in York as it’s on our doorstep. Well, The Cat’s Whiskers has an age restriction of ten, meaning that our boy is eligible but our girls (five and seven) aren’t.
The Kitty Cafe is in a great location in Leeds city centre, nestled among the shops and just a short walk from the station. It’s a handy option if you’re planning lunch alongside some retail therapy, but we’d advise against dropping in without a booking. We booked two days in advance and had a very limited choice of times. It pays to be organised – the Kitty Cafe is popular. And when we arrived, we could see why: it’s such the purr-fect place for cat fanatics.
We arrived at lunchtime and, after agreeing to the sensible house rules (to keep the cats happy) and paying the welfare fee (£6 per adult, £4 per child), we were shown through to the main cafe. The Kitty Cafe is a joyful space: bright, colourful and playful. The kids, slightly grumpy and on the verge of hanger, were instantly cheered up by the sight of the fun decor and, more importantly, the cats. It’s an impressive set-up for the cats, with undulating walkways criss-crossing the room, enormous scratching posts, plenty of cat toys and lots of places for them to retreat to if they want to be left alone. There are dedicated Cat Welfare Officers checking that the cats are happy, too, making it a pretty nice place for the cats to hang out from what we could tell.
I’d wondered how excited the kids would really be to hang out with cats at a cafe, given that they hang out with them all the time at home, but it turns out that they were very excited indeed. Tabbies, ginger cats, skinny cats, fluffy cats: they wanted to see them all. Thankfully it’s a very relaxed place where you can just wander around and stroke the cats, as long as it’s within the rules.
Bookings are for a one-hour slot, which means that time is of the essence if you plan to eat a full meal – there’s no time to linger over the menu or savour every mouthful. There’s a selection of simple hot and cold home-cooked food and drink on offer, from jacket potatoes to panini and wraps. The kids didn’t need time to think about what to order: they all opted for pizza (£6.95) while I had a veggie wrap (£5.95). I’d expected the food to be secondary to the cat experience, but the pizza, in particular, was surprisingly tasty and generous for the price. It did take a while to arrive, however: a bonus for the kids, who used the time to seek out more cats, but less relaxing for the grown-up who was keeping an eye on the time. The service was really friendly but could benefit from being faster.
Rushing aside, we all really enjoyed our visit to the Kitty Cafe in Leeds, and the kids thought it was paw-fect. They’re even campaigning for us to get more cats, but I think we’ll stick with visiting the Kitty Cafe from time to time instead!