Long before Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium had feline fans queuing around the block in Shoreditch, British boozers offered generations of Londoners the chance to drink and socialise with a resident pet or two. Pubs and bars have kept cats and dogs for practical reasons (well, mostly vermin control) as well as to entertain punters for hundreds of years, and plenty in the capital still do:
Ray Brown, the resident pub cat at Seven Stars, keeps a close eye on the lawyers drinking pints after a hard day in the Royal Courts of Justice next door. He has a habit of stealthily removing himself from the bar when things get a bit noisy however: "He can be a bit of a diva," reported one of the bar staff when I popped in to see him recently and he refused to come and say hello.
Apparently Charles Dickens' favourite watering hole, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was also home to a very famous parrot. Polly, an African Gray, used to yell rude words at drinkers and was commemorated by hundreds of newspapers around the world when she died in 1926. Today, the pub is presided over by a slightly more polite parrot, but Polly's still there too – stuffed behind the bar.
Legz, the three-legged cat at the Charlotte Despard in Archway, has become something of a local celebrity ever since he won Rescue Cat of The Year at the National Cat Awards. He was adopted by the pub after being hit by a car nearby but soon settled into his new role as pub landlord. Just be careful not to sit on any of his ping-pong balls when you nip into the pub for a pint. He hates that.
Silvester is the official dog in residence at the Red Lion & Sun in Highgate Village, but he's happy to share his territory with lots of other canine regulars who are allowed to pop in with their humans for one of the pub's excellent hog roasts. The pub also collects photos of furry locals and has a proud canine line-up that includes Kate Moss's pooch.
If you're after some furry company south of the river, you can chat to the resident moggies at Scootercaffè near Waterloo while you sip a cocktail among the Vespa memorabilia. You might even spot a local taking their own cat out for a drink or two. Gives a new meaning to the phrase 'bring you own', doesn't it?
This is a cheeky sixth entry, as Alice Through The Looking Glass is a shop rather than a pub. But this spot near Trafalgar Square deserves an honourable mention for the large white rabbit, Harley, who can sometimes be found snoozing among the merchandise and greeting surprised shoppers.
Check out more days out in London for animal-lovers.
Or find a few dog-friendly spots in the capital.