Inside Cat Cafe Melbourne.
Inside Cat Cafe Melbourne. Photo: Scott Barbour

Annabel Smith

Are a love of cats and coffee mutually exclusive? We hope so. Australia's first cat cafe opens in Melbourne today, but coffee snobs should paws for thought  – the cafe component is distinctly pared back. More cat playroom than cafe, only instant coffee and tea ($2.50), bottled drinks, and baked goods ($3-$3.50) will be served.

The absence of single-origin, first-quality roasted beans doesn't appear to be a problem so far, with the Cat Cafe's website showing its feline-friendly rooms are booked out until Sunday.

Cat Cafe Melbourne owners Anita and Myles Loughran visited Japanese cat cafes on their honeymoon, and decided to bring the concept to Australia. "It was amazing, it's like nothing we have in Australia," Loughran says. "In Japan cafes [the cats are] purebreds and are quite unfriendly, they're not chosen for their personality."

The Loughrans' cats are instead adopted from local shelters The Lost Dogs' Home and Geelong Animal Welfare Society. The 12 resident felines have free reign of the upstairs rooms in the heritage-listed bluestone building near the Queen Victoria Market, with plenty of toys, tunnels, Astroturf shelves, scratching poles, shaggy rugs, and nooks and crannies to keep them occupied. Shy scaredy-cats may retreat through the cat flaps to their private cattery.

Beverages from downstairs can be enjoyed in the cat area, provided you keep a lid on to prevent puss puss from lapping it up.

Sessions in the cat area ($10 per hour) must be booked online, with a maximum of 15 visitors at a time. Children under eight are not permitted. Two crowdfunding campaigns helped set up the cafe.

Melbourne's moggie cafe is open 10am-9pm daily.

Cat Cafe Melbourne, 375 Queen Street, Melbourne, 9642 8540, bookings: catcafemelbourne.com