It proudly advertises itself as the only one in Melbourne and Australia’s first! This is the Cat Café in Melbourne’s Guildford Lane an experience too weird not to stop in and see. I guess it fills a niche market for people that can’t bear to be away from their own cats during the day, or those that are wondering if they would like to own a cat, or perhaps those on holidays and missing their feline friends. Either way this café has been around since 2014 and is obviously very popular with bookings taken online and walk-ins welcome if spaces are available.
The cafe is in Guildford Lane, a clean and green laneway in Melbourne with historic red brick buildings many of which are residential apartments. What’s impressive about it, is that it is full of potted greenery and window boxes full of flowering geraniums that soak up rainwater diverted especially for them. Guildford Lane is one of four Melbourne laneways to be selected for a pilot program called Green Your Laneways campaign, with the aim of transforming city laneways into leafy green useable spaces for everyone’s enjoyment. It is really noticeable too with the red bricks and green plants making a nice contrast and something very welcome in an inner city environment. Adding to the idea is a mural of an overgrown factory which can be found on an old substation door. This is the work of artist Mike Makatron and adds to the greening of the alley while showing the industrial heritage of the area.
But back to the Cat Café. We, like most other people we saw hovering outside the Cat Café, stood in the laneway reading the extensive ‘menu’ of options for visiting and wondered if we really wanted to go ahead with this. But in we ventured taking the option of entry plus a cool drink of your choice. You can opt for the basic entry only option which for $12 per head gets you 1 hour of exploring the café and interacting with the cats, and from there the options and prices increase, all the way up to $60 for a full day pass including unlimited drinks (tea, coffee, cold drink choices).
On entering the café, the foyer area is full of cat themed merchandise, gifts, and accessories for humans and cats. A couple of friendly cats welcome you at reception, as well as the humans, and you are given an introduction of where you can go and what you can see and do as well as a few basic cat café rules.
Once you’re in the complex you can roam over two levels, much like the cats, and sit with the furry critters. Some were sleeping, some climbing, some were up for some play time and yes there are toys provided to play with the cats too. It’s all a little bit weird actually and it’s not somewhere you’d go if you are looking for a really good coffee or food but at least we can say we’ve done it and we did fall for one cat in particular whose name was Adam. All of the cats are displayed on posters on the wall which introduce them and their personality traits. As with most cats these ones rule the roost and roam freely or rest in the numerous cat beds around the place in between pats and scratching post time.
The cats all get a rest break from the human visitors when the café closes between 1 and 2 pm every day for their catnaps. On the plus side all of the cats have come from animal rescue shelters and are ambassadors for people to adopt from such places. The café is open every day from 10am to 6pm.
Cheers and don’t tell my cat Dave!