Confessions' of a Free Spirit

A haven for cat lovers

By Alison Brennan

The concept of cat cafes originated last century in Asia. They are particularly popular in Japan although the craze is now spreading throughout the world. So when I discovered that Melbourne has a cat cafe I had to go and check it out. 

Opening in 2014, the simply named Cat Cafe is the first such establishment in Australia. Nestled in a quiet lane off Elizabeth street in the CBD, it's a lovely way for a cat lover like myself to spend an hour. Booking in advance is required as places can sell out. There is also a small fee involved. The cafe works to a customer roster. This keeps things running smoothly. Overcrowding is avoided which benefits the cats as well as giving the customers quality time with them. 

There's not a huge range of food available due to council regulations, but a nice hot coffee and a slice was more than adequate. I was in cat Heaven! The furniture in the rooms is sparse but there are plenty of cushions and climbing obstacles. I studied the picture on the wall. It had the descriptions of each of the resident cats. Like humans they all have their own personalities. Some of them came up to me but most just did their own thing. They're used to visitors in their home.

I located a lovely fluffy chap called Arnold napping in a blue canvas dome. He didn't mind me sitting next to him. In fact he barely stirred. I tried to greet as many cats as possible but I kept coming back to pat Arnold. There was something cathartic about talking to him. The cafe is peaceful. The deliberate lack of noise keeps the cats happy. It's very easy to forget about the bustling city outside.

Before I knew it my allotted time was up. I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, almost as though I'd been at a day spa. There's a little gift shop downstairs to purchase some mementos on the way out. And then it's back to reality.

The Cat Cafe is open six days a week and is located in Guildford Lane, Melbourne.