My 8 year old son and I had a long-awaited visit to Melbourne’s only Cat Cafe on Saturday. It is situated in Guildford lane, only a few minutes walk from Melbourne Central Station. Due to all the railway works going on at the moment, we travelled on the Sandringham line and alighted at Flinders Street station, catching a 59 (Airport West) tram from Elizabeth Street up to Melbourne Central. We could have taken a train from platforms 1, 2 or 3 to stations in the City Loop instead.
I booked online a couple of months in advance, securing an 11am session. You pay for entry and if you would like basic food (such as a muffin) or a drink, this is extra or included in a package deal. Whilst they accept walk-ins during quiet periods on weekdays, it is advisable to book to avoid disappointment. We confirmed our food order (it is brought out at a certain time so that the cats don’t find it first!) and had it upstairs halfway through the one hour session. There are 2 hour and 3 hour sessions available too, but it is best to try one hour first to see if you like it there.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a young lady of gentle temperament and spotted three spoilt felines “on duty”. Arnold (half Maine Coon) guarded the little containers of cat biscuits which can be purchased for $2, knocking a few off unapologetically as he made himself comfortable on the reception desk. Ruby looked like she was constantly winking at me, but it turned out that she had only one eye! We perused the little souvenir shop and waited until it was time to enter, making sure that no kitties escaped when we did go through.
The bottom level had low chairs to sit in as well as some regular sized ones, all positioned around the edge of the room, enabling the cats to move about freely. I was struck by the ambience in the room; the quiet meditative music and the soft lighting including Christmas tree lights. There was no shortage of cat trees for the cats to play in or sleep on top of. A number of cat toys were available to entice the cats and kittens to play and it was relaxing patting them and seeing them move about freely. Visitors are asked not to pick up the cats but can gently pat them if the cats don’t mind.
On our way to the top level, we came out to the reception desk and had the option of washing our hands at the little wash basin there before eating or there was alchohol cleaner in pump packs on the desk. We walked up the stairs and there were a couple of cats sitting on the stairs, much to my son’s amusement. One strode along the top of the stair landing, very much in ownership of the place!
The cats could move between the two levels through a little hole at the top of the stairs (little shelves built into the wall which they could climb on). Up the top level were more cats (some were sleeping and others walking around). Daylight streamed in through a number of windows and the cats could even sit on a balcony protected by strong chicken wire if they desired. There was a bridge across the roof enabling the cats to move from the steps on the wall to the cat trees on the other side. There was also a wooden tree in the middle with cosy cat beds at the bottom. It was fun to read the profiles of the resident cats on the wall and to sit in multiple places on that level, taking it all in.
The hour went too quickly but it was just enough to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasure of patting and playing with beautiful rescued cats. It was a well run establishment and the cats are so fortunate to have had a new start in life. The cats did not clamber onto me (apart from when I deliberately put a couple of cat biscuits on my lap!) and it was a non-threatening environment for my son to observe and befriend some cats. He wanted to go back as soon as possible and at least once a year!
Though there seemed to be some indication on the web about the Cat Cafe moving in June, this was not the case according to the receptionist and it is highly unlikely to relocate in the next 12 months. I recommend this place to every cat lover. It is a hidden gem in a tiny pedestrian lane, but well worth the visit.
PHOTOS TO FOLLOW! (See this later post for the pictures )