cat in trenchcoat

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.

cat cafe

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.

just lion around

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?

 

photo credits
"敬業態度不佳的麻豆" by 今 ゆっくりと 歩いていこう
"Twinkle eyes" by Takashi Hososhima
"動動不愛動" by 今 ゆっくりと 歩いていこう
Joanna Paul
Dr. Joanna Paul BVSc (hons) BSc Jo is a practicing small animal veterinarian based in Melbourne, Australia. Working in partnership with loving pet owners to ensure their fur-kids remain happy, healthy family members life-long is what brings her joy. Well, that and taking naps. Jo strongly believes that helping to maintain the wonderful bond between a pet and their human is reason enough for a happy dance.
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Showing 10 comments
  • Natalie @ Ozzi Cat Magazine
    Reply

    I’ve been to a couple of cat cafes already, they are so different! Love visiting them. Our Melbourne’s one is lovely and Anita and Myles are fantastic people! I’m so happy that we sponsor a one-eyed kitty there, Braveheart. If you visit the cafe, please pass a hug from me 🙂 Here is from my first visit, will add another post on my other visit soon: http://ozzicat.com.au/cat-collection/cat-place/is-cat-cafe-melbourne-worth-visiting-cat-ladys-sneak-peek-tough-questions-answered/ xox 🙂

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Natalie,
      You sponsor Braveheart? He looks very cute. I will definitely be checking it out very soon, and shall pass on that hug 🙂

  • Bexy McFly
    Reply

    OMG!!! I stumbled across a cat cafe in Beijing last December – it was SO much fun! I couldn’t drink my hot chocolate I was too busy running around cuddling all the cats, beging them to ‘LOVE ME!’
    I think a mission to visit every cat cafe in the world is on the cards…

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      I think that may be the best bucket list idea ever!

  • Mike Huiwitz
    Reply

    As a cat-lover myself, I love the idea of a cat cafe.

  • weliveinaflat
    Reply

    I had wanted to visit cat cafes in Taiwan when I was there but was unable to due to time constraints! Then again, our neighbourhood is teeming with stray felines due to spay and release projects, so I can find myself some catty company just downstairs anytime, haha!

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Really! Are the stray cats friendly or feral? That’s an interesting way of managing overpopulation. Here they are taken in by shelters and put up for adoption if they pass health and temperament tests.

  • Chelsea Price
    Reply

    I love the idea of a cat cafe – I wish they would open one in the US! 🙂 Great post, and gorgeous blog! I just nominated you for the Liebster Award…feel free to stop on over and check it out 🙂

    http://secondchances4animals.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-liebster-award-giveaway-winner.html

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thank you SO much Chelsea, you’ve made my day! Now I need to sit down and answer your questions, and work out who my fave ‘small’ blogs are 🙂

  • Pawesome Cats
    Reply

    Great article! I hope to get down to Melbourne at some stage when they open to check out Australia’s first cat cafe.

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