Website: Maison de Moggy
I despise fads. I’m the person who sits aghast at having water served in a milk jar. And that’s before you get me started on coffees served in buildings built yesterday but made to look 50 years old.
So with scepticism, I read of a cat café coming to Edinburgh. It seemed to be one of the many new novelty fashions coming to the city that came before and stuck around after the Festival. Much like classic establishments being get painted up and the increasing number of bars that do spartan but are overpriced.
Nevertheless…cats! And my mother wanted to take my grandmother as a treat. Off we popped.
Introductions were awkward. We arrived earlier than our booking and going through the main door were treated to a face through a pull slider on the inside door. Standing with my mother and grandmother and feeling like we were going into a secret club was not a feeling I expected to have. Yet, despite both of them walking with sticks, we were told they couldn’t enter before our time (we were fifteen minutes early). This, coupled with my mother telling me she paid a 20 quid booking fee before even entering (with no coffees or drinks included), did not help matters.
After going for a drink elsewhere we entered and were asked to take off our shoes off or wear blue shoe covers. The lady greeting us was serious but formal as she gave us a statutory recitation of the house rules; keep your hands inside the ride at all times was the gist.
For all of this to get inside and see beautiful cats is charming. They are the most docile and friendly you’ve ever seen and are genuinely nonchalant about human visitors.
Maison de Moggy has taken a novelty and turned it into a practical idea. The issue that most have – but which quickly becomes apparent – is the cats are taken care of. Set hours operate to ensure that they have time to sleep and the rooms, while small, are a sprawling maze of hidey holes, bridges, baskets and beds. Toys are littered around and they are fine examples of animals which have truly become accustomed to the cooing and petting of wave after wave of human visitors.
In my mind, I was expecting a Hemingway house, a walk in a sea of zealous, tempestuous cats. Here I was wrong, not only do each cat have their only personality but they are treated as princes and princesses. There is no faux display of affection, in the corner of your eye you can see and hear the staff playing and speaking to them and their care is well-meaning.
As a place to sit and enjoy yourself it is very easy to fall into a relaxed hour that doesn’t fly-by. The sitting area is lovely and intimate and a wonderful observation spot to watch the whole room. The selection of teas, coffees and cakes are premium but varied and delicious. Tables are not reserved but there are never enough people inside to lead to a scurry. Guests can walk around and play with cats that are all too happy to be petted and have attention poured on them.
Altogether, it’s impossible not to leave with a smile on your face. Cats are cathartically reassuring and a hipster idea is tempered by strict guidelines for care and protection of the animals. With this comes the most prohibitive factor – cost. The selection of drinks and cakes is not cheap, and it’s a struggle to reconcile this with the £7 per person booking fee for an hour.
Nevertheless, the free market instinct gives hope that this will become the norm in other establishments on a cheaper or better financially structured basis. Until then, this is a lovely visit but an expensive one and maybe not as simple walk in as some might expect.