In our own little corner of Red Hill this is our latest jewel in the crown. Katina – no pun intended, and known affectionately as Tina, is the soul and energy behind this wonderful new initiative. It has been years in the making and the planning.
As Tina says, she always knew from a very young age that she wanted to be an animal rescuer and it took a while and a few interesting career moves before this was realised. She spent some valuable time as a vet nurse and she has used that experience to help her run her cat rescue, Pussies Galore Rescue, which she funds mainly by herself and from some of the income she earns from running her op shop Pussies Galore - the adjoining shop to the Cat Cuddle Cafe in Red Hill. Pussies Galore Rescue saves the lives of unwanted, neglected, abused and abandoned animals.
Katina's origins are Greek – and I knew this as soon as I heard her name. We bonded over a cappuccino. There are teas and coffees and snacks on sale there which you can purchase just before going in to see the cats. I listened to her story, the hoops she had to go through to set up her Cat Cuddle Café. The commitment it takes to run her cat rescue and the precious volunteers who help out.
They have only been open for two weeks and in that time 7 cats and kittens have been adopted. She is enjoying the success it is having but also the personal satisfaction in knowing that every cat that is adopted, makes room for another. However it is hard work and it needs a lot of dedication. The booking fee goes to keep the cat rescue centre open and fully functioning.
Other Cat Cafes are now starting up in Melbourne and Perth but none have a rescue attached to them and her model is the only one in Australia. She is hoping that everybody will copy her and she is happy for that to happen because she knows what a difference that will make to animal rescues.
Katrina collaborates with many other organisations and the cats and kittens come in from near and far and her policy is to welcome and look after as many as her rescue can manage. She loves animals in general but understands that in busy cities cats are probably easier to adopt and look after. She makes sure that her adopters are committed and have all the information they need to give a cat a happy and stable home and helps them go through the process of having them microchipped, vaccinated and neutered.
At the moment they are happily in premises in Red Hill with all things cat friendly from climbing frames and scratch pads to walkways and an open area where the cats can sleep in the sun.
There are about 12 cats in residence but their numbers may change as some are adopted. That is why this sign on the door exiting is so relevant - each time you return to cuddle a cat you are helping to keep the cat rescue alive and each visit will be with a different set of feline friends. When I was there two of the kittens, Chester and Charlotte were tired from playing all morning and were curled up beside one another with lots of very happy customers cooing all over them and just watching them stretch and yawn.
Tina hopes that this will be a venue for people to come and enjoy getting to know cats and being able to pick them up and cuddle them. The experience of holding and cuddling a kitten is a soothing balm, some might even say it is therapeutic, and it was interesting that when it was time to say bye to the kittens we all sighed and went off with great big smiles on our faces. An hour spent in blissful harmony watching lovely animals. What could be better than that ?
There is an entrance fee and booking is essential.