New Zealanders are the world’s greatest cat owners, according to 2011 statistics from the New Zealand Companion Animal Council. Nearly half of all Kiwi households boast one or more kitty companions, and at the time the statistics were released, our cat population was then at 1.4 million.
However, despite all this cat love, we’re not always good at taking care of our national clowder. The Auckland SPCA alone took in 13,607 animals last year, and the story is the same at rescue shelters around the country.
Enter The Cat Lounge. Friends Vicky Chapman and Mike Jones plan to set up their cat café on Auckland’s North Shore using more than $36,000 in Kickstarter pledges from the public. The Kickstarter hit its target late last week.
The pair have partnered with non-profit organisation Lonely Miaow for the venture, and the café will be stocked with around 15 former stray and abandoned cats. Pet food company Friskies is also supporting The Cat Lounge.
The welfare of the cats is top priority, say Chapman and Jones:
“We will work with our local cat rescue centres to only bring suitable cats into the café - we will only take on cats that will thrive in the company of people and other cats. “
The first Cat Lounge cat, a kitten named Fuse, has already been chosen.
New Zealand’s food safety laws rule out the traditional format for cat cafes in Japan and Korea, where the kitties play, roam and sit on customers’ laps during meals and coffee. However, Chapman and Jones have gone for the next best thing, making one half of the 200sqm building a café, and the other “a cat lover’s dream” with couches, free wifi, cat-themed video clips and of course, cats.