A cat cafe? You’ve got to be kitten me!
I haven’t… But I would LOVE to! At the moment this is somewhat challenging, with a trip to somewhere like Japan, Thailand, Korea or even Dubai the only way to achieve my life long dream of drinking Mochas with moggies.
Cat Cafe? What is this Madness?!
I know, right. Many people are tragically unaware of this fabulous feline phenomenon, so I’ve decided it’s time to spread the word – right meow. A cat cafe is exactly what it sounds like; a cafe with cats! The food and the cats are separate, and the visitors usually pay an entry fee before they can enjoy some feline company. The first ever cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998, and they are now super popular, particularly in Japan. This is probably because a lot of apartments don’t allow pets, so the cafes allow cat people somewhere to relax and enjoy a little kitty-time in a supervised environment.
Pet me, Love me!
The good new is, it looks like I may just be lucky enough to feast with felines in the convenience of my own city Melbourne in the not too distant future! This is all thanks to Anita and Myles Loughran, the cat-loving couple from Yarraville who are in the process of making their kitty and coffee dreams come true. Anita was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
What made you guys decide to open Australia’s first cat cafe?
Several months after coming back from our honeymoon overseas we had settled into our jobs, working towards putting a deposit on a small apartment of our own. It didn’t take long before we became bored with our daily routine at work, felt under-appreciated, and unchallenged. In jest Myles suggested we open a cat cafe so we could have a job we actually enjoyed. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and the next day began researching small businesses and contacting the Melbourne City Council to see if it would be legal. Once we had been given permission by the council we decided to put our savings towards our dream business rather than an apartment.
Have you visited any cat cafés overseas? If so what did you like best about them?
During our honeymoon we went to Japan. One of the first things we did in Tokyo was visit a cat cafe. Neither of us knew what to expect. It doesn’t matter how much you read about cat cafes, the experience is so unique. What I liked about the Japanese cafe the most was the environment. Here was a place you could relax, socialise, play with cats, feed them treats and get swarmed by them, and just observing the cats and the happy people around you. Instantly we forgot that just outside was one of the worlds largest and busiest cities.
Anita, is it true you’re allergic to cats? Uh oh!
Yes, it’s true! If I hold a cat, or am in a room with several, my eyes water and itch, I sneeze uncontrollably, breathing becomes strained and I get red welts that itch all over my body. It’s not a good look. However, I am getting treatment. My weekly injections will begin shortly. To start with I may have to spent the majority of my time in the cafe, and slowly increase my time in the cat areas.
Have you picked a location? And is there a timeline for when you are expecting to open the doors?
The location will be within the Melbourne CBD area. We are currently negotiating terms for a premise, which is taking much longer than we were hoping it would. Hopefully we will have some news shortly. When we began negotiations we were hoping to be open to the general public by July, however August is looking more likely now.
*Breaking news – the location has just been confirmed – 375 Queen Street, Melbourne, just next to the Queen Victoria Market!
Have you chosen where you’ll be adopting the cats from?
Yes, we will be working closely with the Lost Dogs Home at North Melbourne and GAWS at Geelong. These two rescue shelters have amazing facilities and have agreed to help us find several cats with the perfect personalities for the cat cafe. The cats and kittens will need to get along with other cats, people, and children, and like physical affection.
I read that due to strict regulations the food and the cats can’t be in the same area, what will be peoples’ experience when they come to the cafe, how will they be able to interact with the cats?
Due to Australia’s strict food safety standards we do need to keep the cats separated from any food area. Because of this the cat cafe will effectively be split in two. Anyone in the cafe wishing to interact with the cats will need to go through an air lock separating the two areas, wash their hands, and agree to the rules of engagement with the cats. This ensures the welfare of the resident cats, and we have no doubt people will be happy to comply once they are in with the cats.
How will the cats be able to have some down time if they need it?
In addition to several hiding places throughout the cat interaction areas, the cats will also have a separate room all to themselves where they can go if they feel overwhelmed. The room will include their litter trays, extra water, and several beds. As animal lovers, we will do all we can to help these cats feel loved and happy at the cafe. They will all be carefully selected from rescue shelters, then be allowed a few weeks to settle into their new environment, and then we will start to slowly introduce people to them with special opening events with people that chose an early-bird perk when we were crowd-funding.
I’m just lion around..
Anita and Myles are doing a bit more crowd-funding to get the premises appropriately refurbished and feline friendly. If you’d like to contribute, check out indiegogo If you’d like to keep updated on their progress, head over to the Cat Cafe Melbourne Facebook page.
Would you like to visit a cat cafe?