Cat lovers are swooning as cat cafes open around the world. Needless to say, when the Catfe Lounge finally opened only half an hour’s drive from my home, I was ecstatic. My husband, Dave, and I made a trip out there recently and were very happy with what we saw. It was an amazing experience that I hope I get to have again soon.
Disclosure: We gave a donation like everyone else, but they were very gracious to give Dave and I an after hours, private tour of the cat cafe.
The Mission of the Catfe Lounge
Unlike some of the cat cafes popping up around the world, the Catfe Lounge is not a for-profit business that assists local rescues. Rather, it is fully a part of the Ferndale Cat Shelter. The Ferndale Cat Shelter is a 501.3c non-profit cat rescue that works on an all-volunteer basis in southeastern Michigan. They offer both cat adoption and a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in the area.
Volunteers from the Ferndale Cat Shelter, include Deanne Iovan, who now runs the Catfe Lounge, saw a need to help more cats than they had foster homes to accommodate. The Catfe Lounge was opened on a shoestring budget in November 2015 to help give shelter to homeless kitties, socialize them, and get them adopted out to loving forever homes.The cat cafe allows the rescue to help a few more cats and gives great volunteer opportunities to people who aren’t able to foster cats in their home.
In its first 5 months of operation, the Catfe Lounge has seen tremendous support from the community, local businesses, and volunteers, and has adopted out more than 50 cats! In the future, the Catfe Lounge would like to have a larger space to help even more cats. You can learn more about their cats what they are doing on their website, Facebook page, and on Instagram. If you are interested in learning how to open a cat cafe like this in your own city, Deanne would like to offer her knowledge to you. Just send her an email at [email protected].
Inside Michigan’s First Cat Cafe
My first impression of the Catfe Lounge was that I loved its style and simplicity. It is located in a small strip of stores just outside of downtown Ferndale, Michigan, which is locally known for its artistic atmosphere. The large front windows are adorned with the Catfe Lounge’s logo featuring a stylized cat. If you look closely at my images of the front of the building, you will see Butters, one of the cat cafe residents, looking out at the camera.
One of the rules of entering the Catfe Lounge is that you must sanitize your hands. A hand sanitizing station is provided between the main door to the building and a second door that opens into the cafe. There is no true entry fee at the Catfe Lounge, but donations are accepted, with $10 being the suggested amount.
For humans, the inside of the cat cafe has some comfortable chairs, a couch, a table with matching chairs, and a counter against the front windows with bar stools. Self-serve coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and pre-packaged snacks are available. It is a fairly small space, but it feels very lively and comfortable. Most of the walls are a warm off-white with colorful accent walls and cat-themed decorations.
The cats at the Catfe Lounge have everything a cat could ever want! There are cat beds, 2 large cat trees, a system of custom-made walkways and shelves around the walls of the room, and 7 litter boxes (including a giant robotic litter box that they love). Volunteers and visitors come in and out all throughout operating hours to shower them with attention. With the support this cat cafe has had, the cats never get bored. As a quick note -another important rule is that visitors can not disturb sleeping cats.
Getting Cozy with the Kitties
While Dave and I were there, most of the cats were curious about us and stopped by to say hello without prompting. They were super sweet to us and very social with each other. The setting didn’t appear to bother them in the least. They went making great use of all of the toys and furniture that were available to them.
Each cat had an amazing story. Some were strays, some were surrendered by their owners, and others made their way to the Catfe Lounge when their owners passed away. Here are 3 kitties whose stories I would like to feature:
This gorgeous long-haired guy has Cerebral Hypoplasia. This is a disorder that affects a cat’s motor skills. He has a bit of a wobbly walk and jump, like all CH kitties do, but is otherwise a very normal cat.
Opal is a sweet little gray tabby. Recently spayed by the Ferndale Cat Shelter, it is believed that she may have had a litter of kittens before. She is super social and loves to care for the young kittens that come into the cat cafe.
Jessica is a senior cat, 12 years old, that came to the Ferndale Cat Shelter when her owner passed away. She is sweet, laid back, and gets along very well with people and the other cats.
Cats that are new to the Catfe Lounge are kept in a back room for a few days until they adjust to their new surroundings. Any cat from the Ferndale Cat Shelter can be given a chance to live in the cat cafe. Whether or not a cat stays in the cafe is determined by how well they acclimate to everything. Deanne says that they have had very few problems with cats adjusting to living with the group. She wants everyone to know that cats are highly adaptable creatures that can get along living in the same environment with other cats.
Combining Cats, Compassion, and Community
The Catfe Lounge is not just a place for the rescue volunteers, it is for the whole community! Events are hosted at the cat cafe to help the community understand cats better, to socialize the cats, and to give a feeling of ownership to everyone. They are open to hosting any kind of event that will fit in their space and work well with cats around (which is almost anything). A few events they have hosted are:
- Cat Yoga
- Purrlates (Pilates with Cats)
- Euchre night
- Birthday parties (birthday cake and coffee provided)
- A reading program for preschoolers
- Girl Scout events
- An art show
- Cat therapy (cats helping humans heal)
You can check the schedule of events and register on EventBrite! Due to size constraints, events will have limited capacity.
Would you like to see a cat cafe like this near you?