After two years in the planning and raising over $150,000 from the cat-loving Purrth community, Perth’s only Cat Café has opened its doors in Subiaco.
The concept is simple: people book and pay for the privilege of sitting and playing with cats for a designated half or full hour session.
Patting a sleeping cat
Cat Café is comprised of a café and the Cat Lounge. You can take food and drink into the Lounge (only food bought at the café) but the sessions are quite expensive - a one hour session costs $12 per person and $8 for the half hour session, with no discounts for kids, seniors or groups. This fee is just to gain access to the Lounge to pat a cat, and doesn’t include any food or drinks, although part proceeds of the Cat Lounge and cafe go to animal welfare.
Waiting for our turn to go into the Lounge
In theory you can stand in the café and look through the windows at the cats inside, but if you are bringing your kids along ‘just for a look’ you may wind up regretting not having organised tickets beforehand, as there is nowhere to actually sit in the café, and since the space is quite small, you wouldn’t be able to stand and stare at cats for long without getting in the way. And since most sessions (it is open from 10am to 7pm daily) book out in advance, while you might swing a single ‘walk-in’ ticket due to a cancellation or no-show, I wouldn’t want to risk trying to get multiple tickets.
The food in the café is quite rich which is worth keeping in mind if you are bringing the kids for a treat. They are predominantly sweet treats such as rawesome slices ($4.50 to $7.95), extravagant cheesecakes and lemon meringue pies ($5.50) and cat cupcakes (a pricey $8). They do sell cookies $3.90) and ‘kitten’ sized hot chocolate ($3.90) but it’s worth remembering that you don’t actually have to buy food to get into the Lounge.
Even during Silent Time there will probably be a cat willing to play
And even if you do want to buy a treat, I would recommended waiting until afterwards because when your kids are in the Lounge they will be much more interested in playing with cats that eating morning tea anyway. Food and drinks must be left – at your own risk – on the various cat shelves around the Lounge.
Other things to keep in mind when bringing kids is that there are no toilets on site (you would have to do a mad dash across the street to the public toilets near Coles), you must remove your shoes to go in the Lounge (so leave your lace-up boots and sneakers at home and wear your best socks) and all bags and backpacks must be left in cubbyholes in the foyer area – apparently cats don’t like the smell of bags and shoes. Stinky feet are okay though.
There is not a lot of space for prams – the café is tiny, the foyer area where you leave your stuff and sign in (and learn the rules) is even tinier, and while there is probably space for a pram or two in the Lounge, you have to wait somewhere before you session, so it might be worth leaving the pram in the car.
These two little guys were rescued as companion cats and are still good mates
At the moment there are no age restrictions on children, as they are still trying to determine how small children go with the cats. But ‘kittens’ under twelve are strongly advised to stay with their ‘cats’, and are encouraged on the website to select a half hour session rather than the full session. They are also encouraged not to book during the silent time (2-5pm), though I visited with my six and nine year olds during this time, and they were fine, as was the little two year old boy who was there for the full hour session. It will depend on your child and what you think would be most appropriate.
‘Silent Time’ is when most cats are sleeping, and during this time you are expected to be very quiet, speak in whispers and never wake a sleeping cat. I can understand why they don’t want lots of small children during this time. Morning sessions are better for small children as the cats (there are currently about eight) are more playful and willing to engage.
There are two distinct spaces - bright and playful, dark and snoozy
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. Part of your session is signing in and being told the rules – so don’t let your kids interrupt with a million questions like mine did, because it will be valuable cat-patting time they’re wasting. Chances are a staff member will be in the Lounge when you are – they can ask their million questions then.
The rules are all straightforward – no picking up cats (without permission from staff), no flash photography, no waking sleeping cats, don’t feed the cats. Parents are expected to closely supervise their children.
So if your children love cats and aren’t allowed one of their own, the Cat Café is a purrfect – and very unusual – way to spend the morning.
Essential Information Cat Cafe
Address: 147 Rokeby Road, Subiaco.
Open: Currently daily 10am - 7pm (with 2pm-5pm SILENT TIME)
Bookings can be made here Website: http://thecatcafeperthshop.com/ Cost: $12 one hour session, $8 half hour session per person