The Cafe Crowd by Lisa Brennan

If I told you that the moment after I booked my plane ticket to Melbourne, I booked my ticket to Melbourne’s Cat Cafe – you wouldn’t think I was crazy right?

Cat Cafe Melbourne opened in July and was launched through a crowd funding campaign by Melbourne locals - Anita and Myles Loughran. Cat cafes are very popular in Japan and throughout Europe and offer a solution for people who want a pet but are unable to have them, in addition to travellers and international students seeking pet companionship. During my time with the cats, I met a guy who was on a working visa for 3 months and missing his cat at home. He was quietly delighted to spend time with these residents. There was also a group of girls who are unable to own their own cats and sat in a huddle admiring a sleeping feline, speaking in hushed tones, while they listened to him gently snore. I witnessed their happiness at being able to spend time with a furry companion – even for just a little while.

The Cat Cafe is located in a beautiful federation building at 375 Queen Street, close to the Queen Victoria Markets. On entering, you feel like you are visiting a friend’s house. Downstairs is a dedicated cafe and shop full of kitty collectables and enrichment items to Catify your home. But its upstairs you want to be – where the cats live.

To visit the cats you are required to pre book a time for your hourly visit (easily made through the Cat Cafe Website). Before going upstairs the rules are explained to you. These are pretty simple to follow and are based on Animal Welfare guidelines.

Cat Cafe Melbourne has four rambling rooms upstairs that are open to visitors and each of which are filled with comfy couches, books, cat-related decor, climbing trees, scratching furniture and loads of cat toys. The 12 residents have all been adopted from the Geelong Animal Welfare Society and The Lost Dogs Home and offered the purfect home at the Cat Cafe. They were all brought in together and seemed pretty relaxed with their environment. When it all gets too much – they have their own ‘chill out’ private room to relax/eat/wash and do all manner of cat like things.

The cats themselves are not bothered by the coming and goings of their visitors. They are obviously used to being adored and admired and, in typical cat fashion, go about their daily activities seeking out their needs. So what do you actually do? If you like the idea of having coffee and cake, sitting on a comfy couch and interacting with the cats – then this is the place for you. Only 15 visitors are allowed at any one time and there is a staff member wandering around checking on the cats, offering drinks/snacks and answering your every question. You can sit in a room where the main group of people tend to sit (the first room) or find another quieter room. My favourite was a smaller room where Lynx resided – a beautiful cuddly snoring boy who loves a tummy rub. You will find the cats wander in and out, chasing, stalking and generally being nosy about what everyone else is doing with ‘the fear of missing out’.

Apart from being a beautiful place to visit and spend some time with the cats, the Cat Cafe raises awareness for Animal Rescue groups, by not only providing a home for these rescue cats but by raising funds to donate to local shelters. They are currently running the ‘Meowy Christmas Campaign’ and are accepting food donations in store which will be given to animal shelters in the New Year. All food donated is matched by Hill's Pet Nutrition.

So my thoughts? You like cats? You like supporting local enterprises? Then you are already there.

Sarah Menziescat cafeComment