See inside Norfolk’s first cat cafe and meet its friendly felines
- Credit: Liz Coates
A vintage-themed cat cafe offering a stress-free space where animal lovers can stroke and chat to feline friends has opened in Great Yarmouth.
Darling Darlings already has a flurry of bookings from across the country from cat fans keen to sample the quirky cafe decorated with colourful kitsch from yesteryear.
Owner Caroline Graham said she was stunned by the success so far since opening on Saturday.
Trained therapy cats Teddy and three-legged Coconut are on hand to greet customers to the Howard Street South premises, formerly David Ferrow's antique book shop.Miss Graham, 37, said it was a family affair with her mum, daughter and best friend helping out.
But at the heart of the venture was a genuine desire to connect with vulnerable people, such as children with autism or older people with dementia who benefited especially from contact with animals.
Regular customers, however, were free to walk-in or book ahead for a hour-long slot petting Teddy and Coconut and enjoying a range of locally sourced sweet and savoury treats, sin-free snacks, and sugar free milkshakes.
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"We are not like the other cat cafes," she said.
"We are starting small and working our way up.
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"It's not just about coming in and sitting with cats, it is to give people that therapy side and companionship.
"It is about what is right for the cats and what is right for people. We are the first cat cafe to have therapy cats, it is not about putting cats in a cafe environment and getting people in.
"My cats arrive with me and come home with me at the end of the day."
In time she hopes to host a range of sessions including quiet ones for children with autism and ones for people with dementia.
The decor and ornaments, sourced from car boot sales and online, aimed to trigger memories among older folk and create talking points for customers.She also hopes to introduce another cat, adhering to strict animal welfare guidelines and at a pace Teddy and Coconut can adjust to.
The cafe is closed Sunday and Monday to give the cats a break from their therapy duties.
An hour booking is £2 per person, or £5 with cake and drink.