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Cat licking teacup

Purr-fect: Canberra gets a cat cafe

Laura Peppas

Canberra is one step closer to getting its own cat cafe after plans are in place to open a business on Braddon’s Lonsdale Street in September.

Sisters Carolyn and Andrea Sewell say they are working with government service Access Canberra to open the capital’s first cat cafe, but need crowd-funding to make the dream a reality; with their crowd-funding website to go live on Wednesday.

“We’re hoping people will get behind us so we can take that extra step,” Carolyn says.

“Once we open, we’re hoping to add a wall in honour of the individuals who supported us.”

Andrea says the idea for the cat cafe started in 2012 after her cat, Zanda, became a social media star.

Cat with teapot and cup

“We started his own Facebook page as a joke and a few weeks he had so many people liking the page, and we thought, people are really into this, maybe we should start our own cafe,” she says.

The sisters launched a Facebook page called Canberra Cat Cafe in December and within 24 hours, it had 600 likes.

“Straight away people were asking ‘when are you opening, can I get a job there’, and we thought ‘ok this could actually happen’, and we’ve been on a journey since then, the page now has over 1,700 likes,” Carolyn says.

Cat with teapot and cup 2

“It’s probably a bit of a craze at the moment, cat cafes originally started in Taiwan and spread across the western world, recently to Melbourne and Sydney and hopefully now us.”

The sisters say they are keen for the cafe to become a tourist attraction for Canberra.

“We’ll have built-in cat towers of the Telstra Tower and the carillon, and the cats will be named after Australian Prime Ministers and significant women in Federal Parliament – we even have a ginger one called Julia Gillard.”

Andrea says they hope to have about 15-20 cats in the cafe, with all cats on site either rescued or re-housed.

“We’ll have a functioning cafe at the front, then the cats will be in a glassed area in an exclusion zone where people can go through and spend time with cats,” she says.

“People will be able to either go have a cuppa and see the cats through the window, or they can choose to go in the cat area after purchasing a coffee.”

The sisters say they’ve started to get a group of cats together so they can assess their needs, and how they react to others.

“It’s been proven animals can help lift your mood, and many people in Canberra can’t have animals because they live in an apartment or their partner may be allergic, so the cafe will provide that element of interaction,” Carolyn says.

The sisters, who have a background in social services, say they hope the cafe will encourage the adoption of homeless felines.

“We’ll support rescues and RSPCA in any way we can – we’d like to use it as education that cats are for life.”

The crowd-funding website http://igg.me/at/capitalcatcafe and business website www.capitalcatcafe.com.au will go live on Wednesday, 10 June.

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author