Thank you to everyone who read my ‘Autism Review’ on Yorkshire Wildlife Park. The next review looks at the accessibility for autistic people wanting to visit Kitty Café. They have three cafes across the UK in Birmingham, Leeds and Nottingham, this review focusses specifically on Birmingham however the cafes are very similar.
Before your visit:
Prior to my visit I checked out their website (www.kittycafe.co.uk) so that I was able to plan my visit. There is lots of information available on the website to help you to prepare yourself including:
- Address and directions to the Café,
- Contact information,
- Photos of the inside of the Café,
- A list of cats that you can meet at the Café,
- A ‘Kids Zone’ with downloadable activities for your children to complete at the Café,
- A menu clearly listing the different food, drink and meal deals available,
- The option to book a table for your visit (bookings are for one hour).
The website doesn’t have any specific information relating to accessibility but there is still plenty of information available for you.
During your visit:
Upon arrival you are greeted by friendly staff at the Reception desk who will show you the list of rules for coming into the Café such as not feeding the cats or disturbing them whilst they are sleeping. These are available as a large sign on the wall which acts as a clear visual.
Once in the Café you are taken to your table. However, this is a Kitty Café so the cats are able to roam free. Whilst you are shown to your table it is highly likely that you will be sharing your table with some very cute cats! For me this is a huge reason why the Café is accessible for autistic people as cats can be therapy animals and having them around you really helps to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere. Having had a cat curl up my knee many times, I can honestly say that this is a real highlight of every visit.
Obviously this is a Café so there is a wide selection of food and drink available. The staff at the café are extremely flexible so if you need to adapt something on the menu to meet your sensory or dietary needs. There is also the option of choosing a plain panini or jacket potato and adding your own toppings so that there is always something for you to eat.
The Birmingham Café is the smallest of the three Kitty Café’s but there is still plenty of space for everyone in the Café. There is one table in the back corner which could be challenging if you don’t like confined spaces but if possible the staff will be able to show you to another table that is better for you. I would recommend making a note in the provided space when you book to make them aware of this.
The expectations of you in the Café are really clear and the staff are available to help you with any questions you may have about the cats. You are provided with a reminder of how long you have left of your booking towards the end and given information about where you need to go in order to pay before you leave.
I did want to make a note about the accessibility of the Café in terms of the sensory environment:
- Sound – I visited on Saturday at the end of the day so the Café was quiet, however I did look through the window earlier in the day and the Café was really busy and the sound does echo around the Café so I would recommend visiting earlier in the day when they first open (10am) or towards the end of the day (from 4pm Sunday-Friday and from 6pm Saturday). They do have music on in the background but this is not overly loud.
- Visuals – The café is very brightly decorated which could be difficult if you find lots of visuals overwhelming.
- Smell – I noticed no issues in terms of smell.
Overall, I think the Kitty Café is accessible for autistic people and can be extremely beneficial for our mental health. If my anxiety levels are high then a Kitty Café is my favourite place to go for self-care.