What is a Cat Cafe? Plus a Little Vintage Shopping

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What is a cat cafe? Have you ever heard of one? It was another rainy and cold fall day, so time to explore another part of town …

Today we headed to Fountain Square (one of the designated cultural districts in Indianapolis) to visit Nine Lives Cat Cafe in Indianapolis. It’s a place we’ve been meaning to get to but just haven’t had time. With soccer canceled due to rain, it felt like the perfect fall day to finally check it out.

How did cat cafes get started?

A cat cafe is a unique type of cafe where customers can enjoy food and drink while spending time in the company of cats. These establishments emerged in Taiwan in the late 1990s and became increasingly popular in Japan, spreading to other countries over time. They provide a wonderful respite for cat lovers, especially those who may not be able to keep pets in their own homes.

What you’ll encounter at a cat cafe

Upon entering a cat cafe, you typically find a space divided into two sections – a food and beverage area and a separate cat area. This is to maintain health and safety regulations, ensuring that the cats do not come into direct contact with the preparation or serving of food.

This is exactly what we encountered when we entered Nine Lives Cat Cafe. The store is divided into two parts – a coffee shop (with delicious coffee) and the cat lounge. To enter the cat lounge you’ll either need a reservation or maybe you’ll get lucky and there will be an opening. They only allow a set amount of people in the lounge at a time, so you might want to call ahead.

 A cat enjoying the window at Nine Lives Cat Cafe in Indianapolis

Have fun with the cats while enjoying a tasty drink

We picked up our coffees from the cafe portion and headed inside to enjoy some kitty time. In the lounge were about a dozen cats – some were roaming, some playing, and some sleeping. You can purchase a half hour of time or a full hour. We opted for the half hour and it was a nice amount of time to visit all the cats and enjoy our coffee.

The cat area is designed with the comfort and enjoyment of the cats in mind. It included plenty of cat-friendly features such as scratching posts, toys, climbing trees, cozy beds, and hideaways. The ambiance is calming and homely, with soft music playing in the background and comfortable seating.

Scences from our Cat cafe visit in Indianapolis, IN

In most cat cafes the cats are usually sociable, and many cat cafes take in rescue cats, providing them with a safe, comfortable home. This was exactly our experience at Nine Lives Cate Cafe. Before we entered, we were given guidelines on how to respectfully interact with the cats, ensuring the wellbeing of the animals.

It was such a delightful experience, and as a family of cat lovers, it was hard to leave them there, but it was obvious the cats were loved and cared for by the staff.

Benefits of cat cafes

Cat cafes provide a unique experience for cat lovers, and also serve a social good by providing care for cats and often supporting local animal charities or rescue efforts. They offer a great way for people to relax, enjoy the companionship of cats, and even adopt a furry friend to take home.

All of the cats at Nine Lives Lounge are up for adoption. When we visited the cafe had been open a little over a year and had adopted out 253 cats. Isn’t that wonderful? My son is a huge cat lover, so he was in heaven during this visit. The rest of us enjoyed petting the cats and playing with the ones who felt like playing. It was some good pet therapy!

Cat cafe etiquette

Although most of this is common sense, it’s smart to remind your kids of some cat cafe etiquette before the visit:

1. Respect the cats’ space

Cats can be quite independent and may not always want to be petted or played with. Respect their personal space and do not force interactions. If a cat is sleeping, do not disturb it.

2. Gentle handling

If a cat is open to interaction, always handle it gently. This means petting softly and not pulling on its tail or ears.

3. No picking up cats

Many cat cafes prohibit guests from picking up the cats. This rule is in place because it can cause stress or discomfort for the cats, and can lead to potential injuries for both the cats and the visitors. Before you pick up a cat, ask at the cafe if it is allowed.

4. No feeding the cats

You should not feed the cats with food from the cafe or anything you have brought with you. The cats in these cafes have their own special diets and feeding them other foods can cause health issues.

5. Wash your hands

To ensure cleanliness and avoid the spread of germs, it’s important to wash your hands before and after interacting with the cats.

6. Listen to the staff

The staff at the cat cafe are knowledgeable about the individual cats and their needs, so it’s important to listen to their instructions. They will guide you on the best ways to interact with the cats and they will intervene if they see any inappropriate behavior.

7. Quiet Voices

Cats can get stressed out by loud noises. Therefore, always maintain a quiet and calm demeanor and avoid loud laughter or shouting.

8. Don’t chase the cats

Never chase a cat if it decides to walk away from you. This can cause undue stress and make the environment uncomfortable for them.

Remember, every cat cafe may have its own specific rules, so it’s always best to check with the staff upon arrival to ensure you understand their expectations.

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FAQs: Cat Cafe – what is it?

What is the purpose of cat cafes

Finding homes for cats.

What happens to the cats in cat cafes?

The cats will either be adopted or live out the rest of their lives in the cafe.

Are cat cafes good for mental health?

A visit to a cat cafe can definitely lift your mood – especially if you are an animal lover.

How to find a cat cafe near me

Since our visit to Nine Lives Cat Cafe, a few more cat cafes have popped up within driving distance, so I think we’ll be making some future visits to them this winter.

If you are looking for a cat cafe in your area, try this site and do a search to see if you can find one. Some of my favorite travel review sites would also be a great resource.

Round out the day with a little vintage shopping

After our time at Nine Lives Cat Cafe was up, we headed across the street to a vintage & local artist store. It was fun poking around the treasures and talking to one of the owners. She let my son try out a typewriter – which he thought was pretty cool and played some records for my daughter (who ended up purchasing a couple).

The Fountain Square area is home to several interesting vintage shops, so if you enjoy thrift and vintage shopping you can happily spend a few hours exploring.

Visiting a vintage shop in Indianapolis and trying out a typewriter.

Indianapolis is full of cool neighborhoods, and there is a lot more to do in the area of town we were in, but we were out of time. This afternoon will definitely be a repeat – especially on a day when we have ample time to explore the rest of the things to check out.

Fountain Square has a ton of terrific restaurants, so sometime in the near future I plan on a repeat visit to Nine Lives Cat Cafe combined with this highly-rated food tour!

Have you ever visited a cat cafe? Ever heard of one? What do you think of the idea?

If you are looking for more easy and fun family experiences, get your FREE copy of 5 Fun Family Experiences and start planning your next fun outing!

Nine Lives Cat Cafe, 1315 Shelby Street, Indianapolis, IN; (317) 602-5287 http://www.ninelivesindy.com/

Pin for later to remind you to check for a cat cafe in your neighborhood:

What is a cat cafe? Learn more about cat cafes and our experience with one in this post.