This weekend I was able to check out a new favourite hangout: the Cat Café in Somerset West. It has two of my favourite things, namely cats and coffee, not to mention free WiFi. So honestly, what’s not to love? I chatted with the owner, Valerie Steinmann, about the inspiration behind the café, including stories about all the little tricks and quirky personalities of each rescued cat.

About the cafe:

The café is run in tandem with an all-cat gift shop by the name of Cat Heaven, where literally everything, from figurines to handbags, is feline themed. The Cat Café is based on those found in Europe and Asia, where people go to have a bite to eat and a cuddle with a kitty. But where those café’s deal with specific, often exotic, breeds, this local hangout is a little different. Instead, Cat Heaven’s Rescue Cat Café has sixteen cats that have been rescued from overcrowded animal shelters and now have a second chance at a better life.

The Cat Café is a non-profit organisation that works to adopt cats from shelters and give them a permanent, loving home. Their aim is to make people aware of the consequences of buying cats, and give people who don’t have the time, funds or space, the ability to own a pet through means of in-house adoptions. If you’re unaware of the great benefits of owning a pet, check out our article on it here.

If hygiene is your concern, rest assured that every aspect has been taken care of. The drinks are prepared in an area separate to the cats, the food is prepared offsite and each visitor is required to sanitise their hands on entering the premises.

About the cats:

As soon as you walk through the café, it’s apparent that these cats are very well cared for. Each table is set with a laminated card that has a picture of each cat, along with the name and where they were rescued from. Of the sixteen cats, fourteen of them were adopted from the Stellenbosch SPCA, while the other two, slightly newer, adoptees were rescued from Khayelitsha.

Despite having been rescued from less-than optimal circumstances, these felines clearly have no fear of humans and will eagerly hang around, waiting for a pet or a treat. We were on guard after a particular black-and-white bandit by the name of Tutu – who admittedly has a penchant for muffins – tried to sneak my lemon and poppyseed muffin off the plate.

Worried that it’s too many cats in one place? Don’t be. Every cat is groomed daily, bathed when required, receives the necessary medical attention and is allowed to roam freely around the inside and outside area, provided it’s within the property boundaries. The inside is kitted out with multiple climbing gyms and kitty beds, while the outside sports a “Hotel Cato” and kitty jungle gym.

As if that’s not enough, next year each of the sixteen cats will have their birthdays celebrated!

Of course you want to visit:

You can visit the cats from Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 16:00, and while Saturday hours currently run from 10:00 to 13:00, these hours are also being extended to 15:00. There is an entrance fee of R20, and the fees and profits from the café go towards cat food and medical bills – did we mention that all the cats get a monthly check up from the local vet?

There are a few rules to be followed, for the safety of the cats, of course. Shoes should be taken off before entering the indoors area, kids under six are unfortunately not allowed to visit the cats, and kids under 14 should be accompanied by an adult.

I would highly recommend the giant peanut butter cookies, and watch out for Tutu. He agrees that they’re very tasty.

To learn more about the Cat Café, or to offer your time as a volunteer, visit catheaven.co.za.

Author

Just a girl, wishing she were a cat. You can find this peanut-butter enthusiast curled up in a sunny corner with a good book and a glass of wine.

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