Published: 06:00, 22 July 2021
A cat cafe is one of those places that divides people - if you love cats, what's not to like? And if you don't like cats - well, just stay away!
So, as a cat lover the prospect of visiting Paws Cat Cafe at Tonbridge seemed a no-brainer.
Visiting any kind of enclosed space on one of the hottest days of the year may not have been a great idea, but I'd always wanted to try one so here we were at our allotted time, checking in to the cafe inside Angel Walk.
To begin with, it wasn't obvious how many cats were in the cafe, as most were sleeping peacefully in the many cubby holes around the place.
But once we'd ordered our crumpets and cheese scone with some cooling drinks - a coke and a milkshake - we were able to look around and see just how many felines were around us.
There was Kitkat, a large ginger and white male who seemed to be up for a fight with any cat he could tempt; Frank, a deaf white cat who loved a stroke, and was enjoying sitting in a cardboard box which was (naturally) a bit small for him.
We sought out white and black Tweenie, the oldest of the bunch, lounging in the window, who enjoyed a belly rub, and ginger Jasper, adopting a similar pose.
But seeking out was really the order of the day, as, 'herding cats' was never truer, because the independent creatures do exactly what they want.
You can't train a cat to come and curl up next to you neatly as you sit and drink your tea - they might saunter past, or hide under your table (as one did), or just eye you from a distance. But it's up to them whether they let you stroke them or not.
The cafe is quite spacious, though taken up by many high-rise cat contraptions for them to climb, explore and hide in.
There was a wash basin to wash your hands before and after, and the toilets upstairs were clean and well equipped.
You also go past the animals' chill-out area, which has a rather distinctive cat whiff about it.
As our snacks came (on cute cat plates) we enjoyed watching them do their thing, and, once we'd also indulged in a very moist slice of Belgian chocolate cake each, we set out to make some feline friends.
So it was more a cafe where you meet the cats before or after your cake. While we were there, one lady came in and paid the £5 entry fee (which goes to the care of the animals, who have all been rescued from Romney House Cat Rescue Centre) just to see them, not to eat or drink.
It's obvious the staff are devoted to the cats and love every one. And the scones and cake were a nice treat.
But did the two mix very well? I'd say probably not for me. But I enjoyed both separately.
Paws Cat Cafe, 8 Angel Walk, Tonbridge, TN9 1TJ
Food: Served on cute plates, the menu isn't extensive, but what is there tastes good. Especially the cake! ****
Decor: It's all about the cats, so besides the cat climbing devices, it's fairly standard ***
Staff: They LOVE the cats and are friendly *****
Price: You need to allow for the £5 entry fee each for the cats' upkeep and vet bills, so value for money it isn't - but if you begrudge that fee, you wouldn't be there. We paid just over £28 ***