This is a little side journey away from my current blog series in which I am writing about my recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. You can read my latest entry here. My daughter has just turned 16! I am feeling older and older by the day. Anyway, as part of her list of Birthday demands she wanted to go to the Cat Cafe. Yes Melbourne has its very own cat cafe. And it is fantastic. Now in our little family, we are borderline cat crazy. So the concept of a cat cafe makes perfect sense. They have been a huge hit in Japan for many years as the Japanese, like us, are cat crazy people. But to those that are not cat crazy, a cat cafe makes no sense. For example, we had some friends over for birthday celebrations last night. When I announce that we went to a cat cafe, they looked at me like I was unhinged. “Do you take your cat there?” They just didn’t get the concept.
Before I get into the ins and outs of a cat cafe, a little history about me and cats. When Isobel and I first started living together I was opposed to the idea of having cats. I was not, at that point, a cat crazy person. Growing up in my family home we always had dogs. Small, smelly, outdoor creatures. I had no knowledge of cats. I had no experience of cats. My denial to accept cats as a household pet was based on what I assumed about them. They were aloof and no fun to have around. So, naturally, before long Isobel and I welcomed our first kitten into our home. A pure-bred chocolate Burmese kitten. Shortly after this monumental change in lifestyle a second blue Burmese appeared and before too long a cream Burmese showed up. I was well on my way to being a cat crazy person.
One of those original cats is still with us. He is a grumpy old man now. Even the dog fears him. But of course now we have two additional cats that allow us to live with them. Along with our Labradoodle we have a lot of fur babies and they make our home, well, home to us. They sleep with the kids mostly. They come along and check out what we are doing around the house. They all have unique personalities and behaviours and they make us laugh. They will bolt up and down the stairs as a trio in some mad panic or we will spend hours looking for one only to find him asleep in the linen cupboard. I couldn’t imagine not having a cat anymore. Cats are complex creatures that have brought so much warmth and happiness and shared companionship to our home.
For those reading along at home who are not cat people, a cat cafe is a place where you can go along and play with a room full of cats and yes even order a latte or hot chocolate. The cats live in the cafe full time. The humans visit for short periods of time and play with and experience the cats. There are human attendants that guide your experience and of course look after the cats. Despite having travelled to Japan three times I never visited a cat cafe there. As I mentioned earlier, they have been in Japan for years. They also have owl, snake, hedgehog, rabbit and bird cafes. Same concept just different animals. These cafes are visited by locals and tourists alike.
Cat Cafe Melbourne is Australia’s first cat cafe and has been open for a few years now. It is located in the Melbourne CBD nestled into a small laneway and is actually two story. When we arrived we were asked to read a simple set of rules about how to treat the cats whilst in the cafe. The cats actually occupy two floors. On the ground floor is a lounge area with couches and coffee tables. Then there are cat scratching posts and other luxurious cat furniture all around the room. The cats can climb a series of shelves all the way up to the ceiling where they disappear into a large mouse hole that allows them to access the top floor. We followed their lead, but took the human stars, and made our way up to the main cafe area.
The top floor is gorgeous and even if you were to take the cats away, is a fantastic cafe space. Keep in mind that Melbourne has a serious cafe culture. Exposed red-brick walls, natural timber floors and rustic timber beams accentuate the space. There are a number of tables and chairs for the humans and also a little nook with a couch for a more private experience. Add to this some of the most amazing cat climbing equipment and cubbies you will ever see. Climbing posts, ceiling level walkways, sling beds and even a bridge from one side of the room to the other (at ceiling height) and these fur babies have a cool space.
And there are a lot of them. Around 15 cats were in residence when we visited the cafe. All of the cats living at the cafe were rescue animals from shelters – giving them a second chance at life. And I have to say they all look remarkable. Clean, well fed and no signs of stress at all. In fact they were almost lethargic in their attitudes towards the humans in the room. You can check out the cat’s individual bios on their website which I will link to at the bottom of this blog. And as the name suggests, it is a cafe. The menu is limited but that is as a result of council restrictions on the responsible serving of food with cats. But there is a large range of hot and cold drinks and yummy cookies and slices (some with cat themes) available. On our visit we started by sitting at a table but before long we were sitting on the floor and playing with the cats with the cat toys around the space.
Being the kind of guy that carries a camera with me wherever I go, I naturally took a lot of photos. All of the images on this blog were taken with my Fujifilm X70. My every-day camera that is always with me. Amazing little camera. I mostly focused on taking individual portraits of the cats. Some were more obliging than others. But I took some nice close up portrait shots of the cats. And as the Fujifilm X70 has a flip out screen, I could simply hold the camera out and see the screen to take the shot without having to get in the cats face with my face. Not all cats will allow face to face interactions. That’s just cats. I have had a lot of practice photographing my own fur babies. On this day, Sherlock, Tilly and Adam were especially patient with me and feature in more than one of the images on this post. For their contribution to this blog I thank them.
Visits to the Cat Cafe Melbourne require a booking via their website. Or I am sure you can call them to book. The duration of your stay is an hour. The staff there were incredibly friendly and catered to the needs of felines and humans alike. Please be aware that children under the age of 8 are not permitted. Finally they have a little shop on the ground floor with a cute selection of cat related products for both the cats and humans in your life. Hope you have enjoyed this little exploratory piece into what kind of crazy I am and how my love of cats led me to a cat cafe. Please feel free to like, follow and share. Cheers. G