Being more of a dog lover myself, I had mixed emotions about planning a trip to a Cat café.
Melbourne’s new cat café has generated quite a bit of press since it’s opening, so much so, that you have to book in advance to secure a time slot to visit.
$10 an hour to visit and play with cats, I was a little reluctant, but decided to book anyway.
The idea of a cat café seems huge in Asian countries where it originated from, for people who due to small living spaces are unable to keep pets. But for myself, living in suburbia, it seemed a bit over the top.
On arrival, and from what I had gathered from photos, I expected a room full of cats, with furniture covered in cat hair. Fortunately for me, I was quite wrong.
When you enter the little café on the corner of Queen Street, you’re greeted with a cute little waiting room filled with cat souvenirs and gifts that you can purchase, as well as food and beverages.
Unlike it’s French equivalent Le Café des Chats, the food there was not designed to be fancy. Instead packet muffins and cakes, chocolates, soft drinks and basic hot beverages were available. I chose to consume mine downstairs, allowing me more time to play with the cats.
Procedure required us to read the rules of visiting the café, sign a waiver and then wash our hands before climbing to the second floor where the cats were housed.
In my head, I had pictured the café as a single room with cat toys and a few tables, with animals roaming around. Instead I was greeted with a four bedroom flat, decorated with an array of cat toys, couches, tables, and even books on cat –related things.
There were about 3-4 other groups with 2-3 people in it, who had booked for the same time slot as I had. It was rather hushed at first, as all of us were quiet curious about what we should do next.
One by one, we sat down beside the cats, working up the courage to pet them and play with them. For someone who isn’t the biggest fan of felines, I was quite enjoying myself.
The cats seemed quite tired, but being open for 11 hours will do that to you. Some of the cats got up and retreated to their own room, restricted to animals only, when they got sick of the attention. I quite liked that they had that option.
Most of the guests I had spoken to came to the cat café out of pure curiosity, one couple, because their life abroad had separated them from their cats back home.
Despite not having any cats of my own, I can definitely see the therapeutic side of visiting a cat café. There is definitely something relaxing about being around these animals.
I left the café feeling quite good about myself, and the bond I had created with the cats, if only for an hour. I would recommend the café to cat lovers in particular, but really, to anyone who is feeling stressed out, and needs a place to unwind.
By Katrina Tauro