If it wasn't so adorable it would beggar belief – a café in the heart of Perth where you pay money to sit and play with cats. After two years and $150,000 of crowd sourced funding, the Cat Café finally opened its doors in Subiaco in early July with a contingent of eight fuzzy felines.
The Cat Café concept originated in Taiwan and there are now many around the world – but this is the first of its kind in Perth (there are cat cafes in Sydney and Melbourne). This is how it works: anyone is welcome to visit the café and buy food and drinks. You can stare longingly through the window into the Cat Lounge, but only those with a booking can walk through to the catty courtyard and enjoy their brew while stroking a kitten or two. It's not as naughty as it sounds.
It's also quite expensive – with one hour sessions at $12 per person (no discounts for kids, seniors or groups) and $8 pp for the half hour session. This is just to pat a cat, and doesn't include any food or drinks, although part proceeds of the Cat Lounge and café go to animal welfare.
Some of the decadent cat cakes available in the cafe
The Café sells a range of hot and cold drinks plus a variety of sweet treats such as rawesome treats ($4.50 to $7.95), extravagant cheesecakes and lemon meringue pies ($5.50) and cat cupcakes (a pricey $8).
Although the website suggests coming 10 minutes before your session so you can buy your food before heading into the lounge, I would strongly suggest waiting until after your session before buying treats. Firstly because there is nowhere to sit (or stand) in the café while you are waiting for your turn in the lounge, and as soon as you get into the lounge, you will be more interested in patting a cat than eating your cheesecake, meaning you will have to leave it unattended on a cat shelf somewhere – at your own risk, should a frisky cat jump up and knock it over.
The Cat Lounge has plenty of space for humans and cats to sit (and play)
A maximum of 15 people can be in the Lounge at any one time, with up to ten people able to book an hour-long session and another five booking each half hour session. On arrival you will be led into a tiny foyer where you will need to remove your shoes, leave your handbags and backpacks in little cubby holes, don a coloured lanyard and sign in before being told 'the rules' (note: this time is included in your 30/60 minute session). You can randomly turn up and hope for a cancellation or empty space, but I was told that almost all of the sessions book out in advance.
The rules are all commonsensical but there are still quite a few – no picking up cats (without permission from staff), no flash photography, no waking sleeping cats, don't feed the cats. There is also 'silent time' from 2-5pm when most of the cats tend to sleep, and during this time everyone is expected to be very quiet.
The Lounge itself is divided into two zones – a larger light and bright zone where the cats are encouraged to play, and the darker chill-out zone with couches where cats tend to sleep. I am not sure if the cats follow these rules, but when we visited (during the 'silent time') most of the cats were indeed sleeping, or at least not particularly interested in playing. There is nothing stopping you patting them while they sleep, especially if you are lucky enough to have one fall asleep on you.
Manoeuvring between sessions can be a bit awkward, as we were asked to leave before what I judged to be the end of our session so we would all be gone from the shoe room before the next group arrived. It is advisable to wear slip-on shoes, as there is no space for 10 to 15 people to be on the floor lacing sneakers and finding handbags.