Darling Darlings Cat Lounge: Norfolk’s first cat café opens in Great Yarmouth
PUBLISHED: 11:53 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 02 November 2020
An intriguing new place has just opened up in Great Yarmouth… Norfolk’s first cat café! Darling Darlings Cat Lounge successfully launched in early June, so Tania Lawrence eagerly made her way over to check out the cats and the coffee
Just a short walk from Great Yarmouth train station is Darling Darlings Cat Lounge a charming little place that's causing a stir. I was warmly greeted by owner Caroline Graham and the cute little face of Teddy peering through the interior door. Soon after, a beautiful light grey cat comes up the stairs to investigate the noise. This cat is Coconut who approaches and happily nuzzles my hand.
The café's interior is a mix of fun little knick-knacks, wall art, nostalgic dolls and toys, cartoon figurines and cat-themed cushions and posters. It's a feast for the eyes with the feel that you've popped over to a vintage house for a cuppa.
The world's first cat café was opened in Taipei, Taiwan but became a sensation in Japan. I wondered aloud what inspired Caroline to open her own. She explained: "I'd heard about cat cafés because my friend was in Japan. She face-timed me from one and I was so excited by the thought of it. I was working with children with additional educational needs but stopped because my dad was unwell. I needed a change so looked into how cat therapy can help people."
Caroline started organising events at care homes, which were very popular and created a real feeling of comfort and community, this then lead Caroline to decide on a permanent location for her cat therapy. And so Darling Darlings Cat Lounge was opened. Both rescue cats, Teddy and Coconut had to be able to put up with sudden noises and to be around lots of people and adapted wonderfully to the environment.
"Some of the cats in other cat cafés don't always engage with people. But here you can lay on the floor with these cats and play with them without the worry of being scratched," Caroline explains. It's very clear from watching Teddy and Coconut that they are happy and being well looked after.
The Cat Lounge boasts a 5 star hygiene rating and offers teas, coffees and hot chocolates, along with some scrumptious milkshakes. To eat, there are pastries, sausage rolls, cereal, porridge and toast for breakfast and an array of tantalising cakes. Five pounds will get you a seat for an hour with the cats, cake and tea - what could be better?
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This is just the beginning for the café. Along with plans to introduce more cats there are plenty of upcoming events in store for visitors, ranging from birthday parties and themed events to film afternoons.
"Relax, put your feet up and bring your slippers. For events, whether it's a film afternoon, a colouring club or knitting circle, we will provide materials so people won't have to pay extra."
Talking with Caroline it's clear how passionate she is about her cats and about helping people.
"People are important to me as well as the cats. One of the biggest goals for this place was to help people through cat therapy. But it's not just for therapy, we are a café that you can walk into and just have a cup of coffee and sit with the cats for an afternoon."
I felt very welcome and relaxed at the Darling Darlings Cat Lounge. Customers are cared for attentively and I could see how the cats were a real talking point and created conversations between people. Everyone had Cheshire Cat smiles on their faces.