Cat cafes have been on the rise for a while now. After the original cafes scattered across Asia, a boom in interest in Japan along with other animal cafes has seen these themed eateries spread and the craze has now firmly established itself in the UK with a handful of location across the country. Now Glasgow has joined the ranks with the Purrple Cat Cafe opening for business at the end of 2017.
Located at 2 Trongate in the Merchant City area, Glasgow’s cat cafe is within easy walking distance from Glasgow Central, Argyle Street or Queens Street stations as well as St Enochs underground. The cafe has 23 feline friends who live on site and is open every day from 9.30 am to 9.00 pm giving plenty of opportunity for Glasgow visitors and locals alike to get acquainted with Glasgow’s first ever cat cafe.
How Does the Purrple Cat Cafe Work?
Glasgow’s cat cafe in open for visitors in two ways. Visitors can simply book a table and you will pay a fee per person which goes towards the care and welfare of the cats. As of Feb 2018 the welfare fee is £5 per person.
You can also purchase a yearly membership in different tiers which allow you to visit as many times as you like throughout the year without paying the welfare fee on each visit and gives you access to other perks such as discounts on food and merchandise and invitations to special events. Obviously, this one is for the real cat lovers who know they will be visiting regularly but as with all these types of memberships maybe have a visit first to make sure you will make best use of a year long membership.
For both options you need to book online to make sure you can be accommodated. While on some days you might be able to just turn up it’s best to book ahead to avoid disappointment. There is a limited number of guest allowed in the cafe at a time and visitors book into an hour long session with slots starting at 9.30 am in the morning with the last session of the day running from 8.00 pm – 9.00pm.
Our Visit to Glasgow’s Cat Cafe
Now up and running for a few months, we decided to head to the cafe as a birthday activity early on a Sunday morning. This was our first ever visit to both Purrple Cat Cafe or to any animal themed cafe so we were quite excited but it turned out we were the only people in our session who were new to the cafe.
Once through the double doors we waited with the other guests until the session start time while staff completed their morning muster. At 09.30 we were welcomed by the team and then called in an odd sort of roll call but it turned out each group is assigned a specific seat. As there was only two of us we were given a corner table rather than the sofas or open spaces which was a little unfortunate but I guess is most practical for the cafe itself.
Within a few minutes all guests were seated and staff began offering table service and then…the flood gate of kitties opened. With 23 cats and kittens living in the Purrple Cat Cafe it’s quite a site when they arrive en mass. Just to note that the cats will go everywhere and anywhere they like which includes your table so make sure to keep and eye on food or drinks to make sure you don’t end up with a tail in your tea or a bite out your cake!
Food at the Purrple Cat Cafe
The Glasgow cat cafe is open all day and so caters for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as teas, coffees and snacks. During our visit there seemed to be both table service and counter service available. One of the big things the cat cafe has also been keen to promote is it’s range of vegetarian and vegan food so if your looking for another meat free option here in Glasgow this might be the place for you.
When ordering from the cafe food will come with a plastic cover so you can fend off over-friendly felines and protect your meal from little paws when you are not actively eating. Similarly, napkins will either be in sealed plastic tubs already on the table or brought over for you ensure hygiene.
Opting for the first session of the day from 9.30 – 10.30 am we decided to have breakfast in the cat cafe and chose a fairly simple hot chocolate and bacon sandwich breakfast. Unfortunately, these really weren’t great with drinks arriving cold and a rather soggy bacon sandwiches but you don’t really go to the Glasgow cat cafe for the food, you go for the cats. Although the girls on the table next to us also ordered a colourful slice of cake, ate one piece and abandoned it so they might need to have a look at the catering side of things a little more.
Any food you order, either by table serve or at the counter, is added to your tab and the bill presented to you near the end of your visit so you can focus on the moggies and leave the money maters until the end.
Interacting with the Cats
Having read all the information online we thought we knew what to expect from our visit but once on site we found we didn’t seem to be the cat’s favourite customers. For some reason all the kitties seemed to be heading directly to other people and not us. Oh, do we not seem like cat people? It took us a fair bit longer than it should before we realised everyone else was feeding the cats treats. As all other guests had visited the Purrple Cat Cafe before they obviously knew this was a thing and so had purchased little tubs of treats on the way in. This hadn’t been mentioned to us and by the time we cottoned on and decided to purchase a small tub, I think the cats had maybe had enough as they were not so keen on ours.
Nevertheless, we made friends with a few of the cafe’s inhabitants and also gained a stalker who watched us very closely from afar, often from a wall mounted bed.
The cats have various runs, steps and sleeping spots up on the walls as well so make sure to look up and check behind every so often so as not get get a surprise when someone seems to bounce out of nowhere onto the table.
While we had treats, we didn’t find much evidence of toys to play with the cats. We had read online that staff would be able to assist us in playing with the furry friends in the cafe and specifically that toys were available on site but we saw only one toy which was with someone who was clearly a frequent visitor who, again, perhaps knew more than us. As we joined the first session of the day and at breakfast time all staff seemed to be busy with morning duties and food preparation so we didn’t see much of them either other than ferrying food back and forth to the kitchen so they were not on hand to aid our interaction with the cats. I imagine staff availability will depend on the time you visit and how many people are in the cafe so you may need to fend for yourselves a little in determining which cats are friendlier than others.
The Purrple Cat Cafe is also a bit dark and no flash photography is allowed so we struggled a little to get clear photos using our phone cameras but again this might just have been our placing in the corner behind a pillar. The other side of the cafe has lots of windows but it seemed a little odd to hover around someone else’s table for too long. Despite the large size Glasgow’s cat cafe has a lot of tables so there is limited free space in some sections making it a little more difficult to interact with kitties on the floor. This is no ultra sleek minimalist cafe but has mix and match aesthetics are by design. As the owner told a local newspaper soon after opening “I wanted it to feel like you’re visiting a friend or a family member. Like you’re visiting your granny – nothing matches”.
During our hour we had been able to interact with maybe three or four of the cats in total though most of these were fleeting hellos as they ran between tables. The cat that seemed to adopted us as it’s humans for most of the session was a grey ragdoll cat named Harry. Possibly one of the older of the residents he seemed happy to just sit on the floor and be feed a few treats.
One of the surprising things about our visit was Andrew’s lack of allergic reaction showing that the team must do a very thorough job in keeping cat hair to a minimum. Having always had horrid reactions even to his own cats we we’re happy to have managed to avoid the snotty nose and runny eye symptoms that comes with a cat allergy!
How to have a successful visit to Purrple Cat Cafe
So first off, the basics of ensuring you read the cafe website and know what the rules of a visit are. Key ones are not waking a sleeping kitty, not picking them up and, of course, for your own health and safety washing your hands after touching the cats. There are alcohol gel bottle as you leave. You can read all the Glasgow cat cafe rules online in the “House Rules” section which also includes a bit more for families and those taking little ones to the cafe but these are also displayed as you head in the door.
As well as reading up beforehand as we had done, if it is your first visit don’t let staff slack off on the introduction talk and make sure they give you an overview of the cafe. This would have helped us know where things were, how ordering food worked and perhaps we would have learned about the treats and toys on offer.
While seats are unfortunately assigned by the cafe if it is quieter then request to move to a sofa or near the window as these seem to be the cats favoured spots. Most likely as they just want to lounge on the comfy seat but you’ll still be closer and able to interact more with them if you are near their favourite haunts. Even if you can’t move, take advantage of the space and don’t stay routed to your table. There is some floor space in the centre of the cafe and you are welcome to talk to any cats wherever they are in the cafe. Some will be friendly, some will be busy napping but take time to explore the space.
It is another added cost of a visit but we would recommend buying the treats and, unlike us, doing so at the start of the visit. As of Feb 2018 these cost £1 per pot but worth noting theses do not come with lids so cats will quickly knock them over to snaffle them all at once if you’re not paying attention.
Would I recommend the Purrple Cat Cafe?
I think if you are in Glasgow this is another interesting place to try out. We didn’t enjoy our visit to the Purrple cat cafe as much as we expected but this seemed to be due to a number of factors on the day including our choice of food, a busy time of day and even our location in the corner but each day or even time of day is likely different. Most of the other guests in our session seemed to have much more interaction with the cats and the children in particular certainly loved getting close to the kittens (even if it was mainly because they were trying to steal their scrambled eggs).
We love the idea of the Purrple Cat Cafe and even though we probably won’t go back again right away we would still recommend a visit to Glasgow’s cat cafe. With five star reviews on across social media and TripAdvisor it’s certainly worth giving it a go!
Have you every been to a cat cafe or perhaps another animal themed cafe? Let me know in the comments.
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