The most purrrfect places to drink coffee – and cuddle with a feline.
Sydney has three of them. There are two in Brisbane. And Melbourne claims the original. Cat cafes are on the prowl across Australia, with Perth and now Adelaide joining the moggie movement. Aside from the excuse to make catty puns, cat cafes are resonating with people who’d love a pet of their own, but circumstance – their rental rules, travelling lifestyle or fur-lergic partner – means they can’t. Others go for the companionship and good vibes that animal interaction delivers. Or, in my case, pure entertainment.
The cult-like popularity of LOL cat vids on YouTube has undoubtedly fuelled the demand. Cat cafes originated in Taiwan in the ’90s but achieved global fame in Japan (where there are now more than 100). The trend, which Wikipedia dryly describes as ‘pet rental,’ has since swept the world.
Visiting one is an unusual experience. Far from my image of lounging on squishy couches holding painted crockery as felines purr on my lap and rub against my shins, interiors are relatively spartan and cats are, typically, more interested in looking after their own needs than mine. Regardless, they’re ridiculously engaging as they claw up cat trees, lounge in mini tipis and snoop under tables.
Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide
Brisbane’s Lucky Cat Cafe and Cat Cuddle Cafe mix things up with cat yoga, while Sydney’s Catmosphere stands apart with its sci-fi theme. When I look up Adelaide newbie, Hashtag Meow, I suspect it’s having a lend with its Felixstow address. But it’s fur real. Inside, a poised Bengal overlooks two Ragdolls as they play on the floor, while a newly arrived British Shorthair hides in a kitty cabin. The spectrum of styles is deliberate, says co-owner Amelia Wang. “I wanted to show people that different breeds have different personalities. Here people can see what cats are like before owning a pet.”
Since opening in November 2016, interest has been so “overwhelming” that she’s ditching the glass partition and the dessert menu and unleashing the entire floor to her 12 furry friends. She and partner Jerry Lam take different cats home each night to give them a break from the cafe, where they spend the day mixing with a maximum of eight people per visiting slot.
In Perth, all felines, from Mr Fox to Ziggy Stardust and Mowgli, are rescue cats, and a percentage of the takings go to animal welfare. “The vision is to rescue as many cats as possible,” says co-owner Chris Mewburn (yes, that really is his surname). When the social enterprise launched, 24,000 people jumped online and Purrth was booked out for six weeks, a trend that hasn’t slowed. About 1500 people wanted a job there, including vet nurses (hired) and a person with zoological qualifications (no brainer).
Mewburn and partner, Pepi Mewburn, live 20 metres from the cafe, and when they’re not there, they have CCTV wired into his phone for monitoring. They take cat welfare seriously, seeking advice from cat shelter Cat Haven and Perth Cat Hospital, sending their kitties for monthly vet checks, and training their lounge hosts to identify signs of stress and fatigue. “The space is designed in such a way that if the cats want to get away from people at any time, they can,” says Mewburn. “There’s a cat flap they can access to reach cat condos out the back. Cats like to escape vertically rather than horizontally so we have cat highways and boxes up on the walls.”
The cafe is also closed from 3pm to 5pm for cat naps and is never open for more than five hours at a time.
What to expect
The modus operandi for the rest of Australia’s cat cafes is largely similar, in that you must book a visit, generally of 30 minutes to an hour. Your cat therapy session costs from about $6 to $20, and most are in a glassed-off playroom where human numbers are limited, the cats have free range and only drinks are allowed. Photos are fine, but no flashes thank you. Meow.
Catmosphere Cafe Sydney
100 per cent dedicated to supporting and caring for rescue cats and kittens, Catmosphere Cafe partners with various rescue groups to provide a safe haven for displaced felines.
They are provided with everything they need during their time at the cafe, until they find their forever home.
Visitors to the cafe can sip their coffee while interacting with the cats, or choose to experience ‘Cat Cinema‘; a chance to interact with the felines while enjoying a film. You’ll also get a caramel popcorn milkshake, a comfy beanbag and some of the cutest company you could ask for.
66 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills. Head to their website for more info.
Sydney Cat Cafe hosts pop-up events, such as the sold-out ‘Cats on Mats’ yoga – and are regularly popping up at different locations so that everyone can enjoy the magic of spending time with cats!
Check out their FAQ page for information on their upcoming events.
Open six days a week, Cat Cafe Melbourne is one of the premier cat cafes in the area. The furry rescue residents have everything they could want at their ‘paw-tips’ and visitors are invited to enjoy coffee and snacks as they spend time with the felines.
You’re also invited to move freely between the cafe’s peaceful, spacious two floors, mingling with all the inhabitants at your leisure.
Coming in at just $12, this is a great, affordable way for cat lovers to spend an afternoon.
30 Guildford Lane, Melbourne. Check out the website for more details and to book.
Lucky Cat Cafe
Providing a mix of “coffee, cats and chill”, Lucky Cat Cafe in Brisbane invite guests to spend time in their chilled out cat paradise.
They also offer yoga with cats, and craft and cats – which currently consists of acrylic brooch painting, so you can take home a minuature acrylic version of your favourite feline companion of the day!
667 Ipswich Rd, Annerley. For more information and to book, visit the website.
Cat Cuddle Cafe
Cat Cuddle Cafe in Brisbane offers visitors the chance to meet and mingle with a slew of rescue cats in a cool cafe environment.
They also run amazing fundraisers like ‘Cat Bingo with Cats’, as well as an Animal Rescue Support Network Op-Shop via Facebook, with all proceeds going towards saving the lives of the rescue animals.
160 Musgrave Road, Red Hill. For more information head to the website.
Hashtag Meow Cafe
$6 will buy you 30 minutes with the beautiful cats residing at Hashtag Meow Cafe. For $12, you’ll get to spend an hour – and get a free beverage.
The team at Hashtag Meow strive to provide a soothing environment for customers to unwind with other cat lovers, and the furry felines themselves in a home-style setting.
The funds go directly to pay for food and vet bills, as well as other essentials to keep these furry creatures living the good life, as we all know cats like to do!
499A Payneham Road, Felixstow. For more information, visit the Facebook page.
The Cat Cafe Purrth
The Cat Cafe Purrth features a cat lounge, and for $15, sell tickets that invite you to hang out with the 12 resident rescue cats. Part of the proceeds go towards Cat Haven and the space is described as a sanctuary for cats and people. Their mantra is ‘adopt, don’t shop.’
On their website you’ll find ‘pawsome’ cat merchandise that true feline fans will just love. You can also buy a 12-visit pass, if multiple visits is likely to be in your future.
147 Rokeby Road, Subiaco. For more information and to book head to the website.