We went to Battersea Dogs Home to try and find a cat a few years ago. Ended up going home empty handed but it was a surreal experience. You get interviewed to find out if you are "suitable" to own a cat. All very friendly but it is definitely an interview!
kizzie, both the Cat Protection League and Battersea Cats Home were fine about us having a toddler. There were certain "nervous" cats they would not allow us to have but other than that they were okay. I am not sure if it helped that we had had a cat before so I could say that dd was used to animals and respected them etc etc.
I have been told that most of the time the Cats Protection League people do a home visit to ensure that your house is appropriate for an animal. And I also seem to recall they say no to anyone living in a flat, whatever their circumstances but this could have changed.
Cats Protection was who I was looking for because thats who my sister got her cat through in other part of country - but doesnt seem to be one anywhere near us. Going to have a potter round websites this afternoon and see if I can arrange to go and see someone.