Getting back to it

Phew, this week has zoomed past – here we are at Sunday already!  It’s been a back to work, back to school, back to university sort of week and it takes some effort to shift back into normal gear after a couple of weeks of lazy lie-ins and too much chocolate.

It’s been nice to get back to the usual routine of an early morning walk – I truly appreciate the time to get my head together for the day.  The weather has been a mixture of frost …

and fog, which always seems out of place in January – I always think of November as the foggy month.  No snow, sadly (which people on the US east coast might think is a good thing after their recent icy blast), but just a bit of the winter whiteness for a day or two would be good.  I’ve grown used to wishing and being disappointed every year living in this part of the country, but so far my efforts to suggest relocation to a snowier part of the world have fallen on deaf ears 🙂

It’s been a week of admin, recycling, decluttering (yes, I’m on with that again!) and general catching up, so there’s not much to show you in the way of pictures unless you really want to see the boot of my car loaded up with cardboard boxes, but frankly I think you can spend your internet time looking at far more interesting things.

Cats, perhaps?  Fancy seeing some cats?  Small daughter’s best friend is desperate for a cat of her own and her Mum isn’t giving way to her determination not to get one, so the Christmas present compromise was a trip to the Cat Cafe in Manchester.  Small daughter and I were invited to go along with them and big daughter, not wanting to miss out on any furry action, came too; it was one of the last outings of the holiday before the girls went back to school and uni, and a nice thing to do on a Friday morning.

The Cat Cafe is in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, based in the bottom of a tall building in an area of offices and apartments.  It’s light and bright with huge glass windows all around, full of big squishy sofas and comfy chairs, books to borrow and cats to watch.

Ah yes, the cats! You pay by the hour to get in (best to pre-book as it’s cheaper than a walk-in price), your drinks are free and unlimited, and there are 10 cats who live in the cafe who may or may not choose to come and talk to you.  The cats are celebrities in their own cafe, pedigree breeds with their own information booklet (yes, I thought that was a menu too!) so that you can spot which ones are around.

I have to say that as someone who lives with two cats who generally rule the roost, sit on my keyboard whilst I’m typing, poke me in the face with sharp claws if I’m not producing food fast enough and make my world a better place with their magic purrs and soft, furry bodies on my lap, it seems like a strange thing to pay to sit in a cafe where someone else’s cats live.  There are a list of rules – you can’t approach the cats if they’re sleeping, you can’t pick them up, you have to take your shoes off (or wear protective covers) – which don’t apply in our house, but despite this, the cat cafe is a remarkable place.  It’s very calm and stress-free, the cats come and go as they please between the public cafe and their private area, often along the aerial walkways that you can see in the top photo, and when they do choose to allow your attentions, it feels like a wonderful thing.

It would be extremely easy to spend a very long time here, just topping up with free drinks and enjoying the atmosphere.  Small daughter and her friend were in their element spotting where all the cats had settled themselves.  This one is Ygritte, she’s a Norwegian Forest cat.

“The cat has landed”

I did wonder why they chose pedigree cats (I think this one a Toyger) rather than rescue cats or moggies of the catch-all breed “Domestic Short Hair” such as ours but apparently it’s because many rescue cats wouldn’t be suited to an indoor public life such as this one, especially if they’ve been rehomed from somewhere that wasn’t the kindest of environments.  I can see that – one of ours is pretty handy with his claws when he’s not happy with something and that’s not good for cafe business.

My husband wasn’t sure that any cats were suited to the cafe business – “Isn’t that really unhygienic?” he asked, pouring milk into a bowl for one of ours who was sitting on the kitchen work surface at the time.  (It’s OK, we have permission from our vet to give her milk and we never use that particular small section of the work surface for anything to do with food!)  Apparently not – no food is prepared at the cat cafe and there are catnip-scented hand sanitisers for you to use on a regular basis, and the visiting slots were all booked days in advance so there is obviously no shortage of people wanting to be there.

Would I go back?  Actually, I would.  There are film nights and yoga nights (although it’s bad enough being shown up by the dog who does a significantly better “downward dog” than I do – would I really want 10 cats laughing silently at me from their lofty walkway vantage points?) which big daughter really fancies so we may go along to one of those one day.  The Cat Cafe isn’t far from the Countess Ablaze shop so it would be a good excuse to visit there and there are lots of fabulous places to eat in the Northern Quarter too which means a return trip is definitely on the cards.  Until then, I’ll be happy with the free cuddles from our own cats – they may not be pedigrees but they’re perfect for us 🙂

Georgina, Birman Cross

OK, I’m up out of my basket now, you may photograph me 🙂

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18 Responses

  1. My Creative Life says:

    Cat heaven, sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing your photos it's lovely to see. It's been wet and foggy quite a bit in Lincolnshire too, no snow. I'm assuming the last 2 cats are yours, they are beautiful. Cx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      No, they're all cat cafe cats and the last two pictures are actually the same cat – we stalked it from basket to bookcase! 🙂 She's a Birman Cross – much fluffier than ours! xx

  2. The Knitting Cross Stitcher says:

    Definitely an unusual cafe.I live 15 miles from Manchester and had never heard of it.Thanks for the Countess Ablaze link.Happy New Year 🙂

    • Winwick Mum says:

      The Northern Quarter is definitely worth a visit, there's plenty to see that's quirky and unusual! 🙂 xx

  3. josiekitten says:

    I would love to visit the cat cafe! Never heard of anything like it before!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      They're very popular in the Far East apparently, and there are quite a few in the UK now so it's worth Googling to see if there's one near you 🙂 xx

  4. Lenore says:

    My goodness a cat cafe, I have never heard of such a thing. I googled cat cafe in Australia and found there are many. It never ceases to amaze me the innovative of some!!
    I love your photos you took on your early morning walk, particularly of the dirt pathway. It could be framed, it reminds me of one of the old Masters. Xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'd never heard of them before the one in Manchester either, but they seem to be really popular. They're very calm places so I can quite understand why; I don't think you always notice when you have cats living in your house as you're usually buzzing about and they're usually sleeping somewhere, but it must be the same! xx

  5. Julie says:

    Amazing place, I'm a cat lover too. Ours is at present snoozing on the rug in front of a roaring fire….he knows the best place to sit.
    Love your magical foggy woodland picture, I could imagine Gandalf walking out of that fog!
    Have a good week X

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I was more worried about the dog disappearing into the fog and not being seen again, but it was definitely a mystical morning 🙂 xx

  6. Morning Christine (it's 11am here in NZ). Yes we have cat cafes here in NZ. Though the one you visited looks amazing.
    My Burmese Coco who is almost 14 years old sits on my knee at night while I knit. I have a wrapper that I put around my socks when I gift them – it's to write the wool composition and washing instructions and I always write 1% Coco fur as well as there are always little dark brown bits knitted in. My DIL said 'it's Coco love'. Someo one else remarked 'it's extra warmth'.
    Loved the photo of the frost. We have temps in the high 20's at our place and walking dogs and moving stock was hard work over the weekend. A frost or two would be welcome right about now.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I love that – there's usually cat and dog fur knitted into my socks too but then again, there's cat and dog fur all over the house no matter how often I clean it up so it's hardly surprising! xx

  7. Jane O'D says:

    A visit to a cat café is certainly a strange experience. My younger daughter and I visited one in Newcastle Upon Tyne and I was left feeling that I'd been transported into a parallel world where cats ruled the roost! Daughter loved it though 🙂

    • Winwick Mum says:

      The cats definitely rule the roost at the cafes – pampered isn't the word! Still, ours are pretty spoilt too so I guess I shouldn't judge 🙂 xx

  8. StitchyDragon says:

    Hi Christine! Yes January is flying by isn’t it?! We haven’t had fog up here just a lot of ice & crisp temperatures, our cats have definitely been inside a lot more than usual! Glad you all enjoyed your visit to the cat cafe, there is one in Aberdeen where my daughter is at uni & she & her friends go when they are missing their kitty cuddles from home. It’s apparently also very popular around exam time – lots of stressed out students relaxing with a cat instead of hitting the pub can’t be a bad thing! Have a great week,
    Helen x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'd have thought you'd have had lots of snowy weather this winter – I keep seeing the temperatures on the weather forecast and it's looked pretty cold where you are! I think you're absolutely right about the exam stress – the Guide Dogs for the Blind take puppies into my daughter's uni at exam time for students to cuddle, and we're convinced that visits to the cat cafe should be on social prescription! xx

  9. Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for posting those pictures! I am shopping or socialising in the Northern Quarter at least once a week and have often gone past the window wondering what it was like. Like you, I have two cats at home but would love to visit…..x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's definitely worth a visit just because you can, although these cats are probably much more aloof than yours at home and it does feel a bit strange to be somewhere where you're not allowed to approach them on occasions when you're used to them being part of the furniture! 🙂 xx

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