When Cat Cafe Melbourne first opened in August 2014, Anita Loughran and her partner, Myles, never thought that this little, and very personal small business would take up such frenzy.
This is a first cafe in Australia that is all about the relationship between cats and humans. But this is not the first time in the world though. Where did Anita and Myles first got this idea from?
Giving an interview to Australia Network News, Anita Loughran talked about the ins and outs of their furry cafe.
“Well, my partner and I, we visited Japan, that’s where we first saw and heard about cat cafes. And when we came back to Australia, we decided to bring one with us.”
They were both working at a call centre in Melbourne, prior to this small business.
“We were not happy with our current jobs. And we decided to do what actually would make us happy. My partner thought about the cat cafe.”
Acquiring information about her allergy to cats, we asked whether she is fond of the furry feline friends.
“Very. I have always had cats until I moved to Melbourne and began renting. The real estate won’t let you have animals.”
How did they structure the whole idea into reality?
Structuring the whole idea was not easy for them. It was a hard journey to get the City Council’s permission.
“It took a whole year going from talking to the City Council about it to the opening.”
Surprisingly, the financial part moved quite fast. They were initially planning to buy an apartment, and ended up not doing so.
“Financial wise we put all our savings into the business. As well as we crowd funded for 3 months and we got $21,000 that we used for refurbishing the whole premise.”
And when it came to the premise, they had to go through a hard 3-months to find a proper place that would allow animals into the property. At first, they found a place, but failed to gain the permission as the landlord would not allow cats lingering about the premise. The current place is located in Queen Street, and it seems that this is quite ideal for them- there are easy access to public transport too.
How did the friends and family react?
The best part is, they got all the blessings and supports from their friends and family, which is quite important to start even a small business.
“My family is very supportive, as well as my partner’s. They thought that it was a great idea. They were very hopeful for us.”
The audience and the cafe.
It is quite important to see how the audience reacts to such a cafe. Naturally, women are not the only human beings in love with cats.
“We have a very wide range of audience. We have customers from 8yrs and going all the way up. We get a lot of couples, group of friends, young children. The list really varies.”
The cafe has 14 resident cats. There are four rooms in which they can play and mingle. There is a separate area for food. If anyone so desire, they can get drinks or food and play with the cats.
“You can’t bring your own cats. We have 14 resident cats. Customers are free to interact and play with them for an hour. They can eat and drink from the cafe if they like.”
“There are four different rooms for the cats to roam around, so we are very hygienic.”
Plans for 2016.
“To keep it running as we are. Our main intention is to increase our followers and increase our customer base. We want to bring new ideas for cats too.”
Being all humble, Anita Loughran wants to keep her cafe simple. She doesn’t want to expand it further.
If asked whether she is pioneering the concept of pet cafes across our Island continent, she said, “In Australia, yes. Australia and New Zealand share the same legislation. Many people have been calling us to know details about the cafe. We can’t say much because different states and councils have different rules and restrictions.”
There is no plan of introducing more cats to the cafe.
“We got permission for 16, and currently we have 14. The cats are getting along so well, it might upset them if we bring more.”
And no, they are not extending anywhere else in Australia other than where they are.
“We don’t want to expand it anywhere else. Just here in Melbourne. It’s not a business you want to franchise. It’s more of a personal business. We are attached to the cats. We don’t want to leave them and travel elsewhere.”
If you are a cat lover and you reside in Victoria, here is a place that you may not want to miss. And for those who live abroad, if you happen to visit Melbourne sometime in your life, make sure you spend a quality one hour, playing, giggling, interacting and having coffee with your furry Australian feline friends.