I am wholeheartedly a cat person. I love, love, LOVE me some feline friends! My cat is the light of my life, and I identify internally as a cat whisperer even if I boast no formal qualifications or mad skills à la My Cat from Hell‘s Jackson Galaxy. So when I learned there was a place called the Catfé Lounge in Ferndale where you could hang out with cats who were available for adoption, I knew I had to check it out.
Somewhere along the trajectory of me learning about the Catfé Lounge within the last few years and my visit last week, I acquired the inaccurate perception that the place was a coffee shop. I thusly envisioned my eventual visit as one where I would sit at a café table, sipping cappuccino and typing away at my computer, while affectionate cats danced across my lap and nuzzled me and I fought off the urge to adopt them all. Probably I should’ve perused the Catfé Lounge’s website before my visit to get clear on the actual set-up of the place.
This misconception was cleared up on the afternoon of my visit. The Catfé Lounge is not a café as its name suggests – at least not in the conventional sense. It’s an adoption center that’s affiliated with the Ferndale Cat Center, a local no-kill shelter, but it’s set up in look and feel more like a cat-friendly living space than a shelter.
There are plenty of chairs around the visiting space, as well as cat-friendly cushions, nooks, and beds. There are cat food bowls, a cat water fountain, and cat toys to help visitors interact with the free-roaming feline friends. On the day of my visit, I would say there were about five cats roaming around.
Cat advocates will be happy to note that the Catfé Lounge follows a strict protocol for its visitors. When you walk in from the outside, you enter a little foyer area where there is hand sanitizer that you must apply before you walk through another door to the visiting area. You must also sign a waiver before you interact with the cats. A $10 donation to the Catfé Lounge is suggested, which I proffered. There are rules on a board on the wall that must be read and adhered to. Additionally, several women who appeared to all be Catfé employees were present during my visit, keeping a watchful eye over the entire scene.
All of the rules, protocol, and supervision admittedly didn’t prime the experience with relaxed, café-esque vibes, but it’s clear that all of these regulations are necessary, because they are there for the cats’ safety, and obviously, the cats’ safety is the number-one priority. But this was definitely the point where my dreams of the freewheeling coffee-shop scene went out the window.
Complimentary beverages (coffee, tea, and water, I believe) were available at the Catfé Lounge on the afternoon of my visit, and there may have been snacks, as well. I didn’t pay much attention to the available refreshments; I was more focused on finding a cat to interact with. There were several other visitors there when I entered, and all of the cats appeared to be preoccupied with them – playing with them, or attempting to ignore them.
Cats are often stereotyped as not giving a crap about humans besides them being the bearers of their meals. I’ve not found that to be the case in my experience with cats; I’ve found them to be generally loving and affectionate towards people, so long as you know how to interact with them. But I will say, on the afternoon of my visit, the cats at the Catfé Lounge didn’t appear to be interested in interacting with me – or any of the humans who were there, really.
There was one cat – the cat shown in the photo above – who I observed as being more friendly in her dealings with the other visitors. I got excited when she suddenly appeared to be coming right for me – until it turned out she was headed for a nearby food bowl. Wah-Wah.
Maybe it’s a good thing that this batch of cats I witnessed at the Catfé Lounge weren’t clamoring for affection, I mused after dejectedly leaving the place after less than 15 minutes. Probably it meant they were well-adjusted and well taken care of in this unconventional shelter setting. And how great is it that the Catfé Lounge lets its felines roam free instead of being cooped up in cages? My humbling experience aside, this place is totally worth checking out if you are considering adopting a cat – and hey, maybe your experience with the cats will be different than mine. There’s no saying that the felines onsite at the time of your visit won’t be all friendly and ready to frolic.
What it all comes down to is this: the Catfé Lounge is a place that is helping cats, which makes them more than all right in my book. I can go elsewhere for a cappuccino and coffee-shop vibes.
801 Livernois St.
Ferndale, MI 48220