Last updated: 24 Feb, 2020
Published on: 5 Jul, 2019
An innovative approach to pet adoption
In an effort to encourage more people to adopt cats, one of PetRescue’s member groups, Maneki Neko Cat Rescue, pushed the envelope with the idea of a quirky, fun space where people and rescue cats could meet, greet, and fall in love.
The Maneki Neko Cat Lounge at the Neko HQ in Melbourne is what one would describe as a cat wonderland - the perfect way to be one with the curious world of cats. For a small entry fee, you can spend a whole hour at the lounge, just lazing around with cats, playing with them or even getting your work done with a little motivation from the cat crowd.
From the estimated 1200 cats that get adopted through Maneki Neko Cat Rescue in a year, over a third of them found a home because of the cat lounge.
Ralph, a ten-year-old cat with FIV was adopted just two days after coming to the lounge from a shelter. He used his sweet and charming personality to impress his humans as soon as he met them at the Neko HQ. Maneki Neko has always championed the adoption of cats who have FIV, and stories like Ralph’s remind us that innovation is a glimmer of hope for all rescue pets, particularly the disadvantaged ones who find it harder to get adopted.
Ralph is a ten-year-old cat with FIV
Samantha McKernan, who established the Maneki Neko Cat Rescue, said the idea of a dedicated ‘cat lounge’ came about when evaluating the foster care model for rescue cats. “People needed to visit someone’s home in order to meet the cat (as per the foster care model), and some find that to be a bit confronting and prefer not to that. Also means that the foster carer has to open their home up to strangers coming in as well, and some of them felt uncomfortable with that,” said Samantha. She added that some pet seekers preferred to meet a number of cats, and this would not have been possible if the foster carer had only one or two cats available at the time.
Maneki Neko imagined that a cat-cafe model of adoption would be a great opportunity for people to get to know rescue cats directly in a comfortable public space.
Cat lounge at the Neko HQ
When you visit, you’ll be led through a corridor adorned with aesthetic cat paintings to a spacious, chilled-out lounge that has everything cats and humans love, including multi-level cat stands, scratch poles, funky decor, comfortable red couches, and the sound of soft mews filling the air. The cat lounge is the ideal place for humans in need of cat cuddles, and those looking to rant to feline agony aunts.
The lounge’s ticketing system also doubles up as an efficient way to ensure that it doesn’t get overcrowded (which might make the cats uncomfortable) and for Maneki Neko to raise funds to help save more cats.
And unlike most cat-cafe themed establishments, Maneki Neko welcomes visitors from all age groups including infants and little children. “We think it’s really important that kids get to interact with the cats, and a lot of parents do this as a trial just to see how the kids will go with cats before they adopt. Parents might even come in two or three times just to get the kids to interact with them and we have volunteers who can help them as well,” said Samantha.
Apart from being open to the public Thursday through Sunday, Neko HQ hosts special events for the community such as Cat Bingo, bake sales, and comedy nights. The lounge is also rented out for occasions such as birthday parties so you can experience life’s big events with all the adorable Maneki Neko cats!
There’s also heaps of cat-themed merch sold at a little gift shop in front, including stationery, jewellery, pins, posters etc. All proceeds from the sales go towards fundraising efforts and helping many vulnerable pets in need.
The Maneki Neko Cat Lounge is situated in the Neko HQ at 120 Regent St, Preston, VIC. Make sure you book your tickets here before visiting.
Are you a cat person? Adopt a pair of snuggly felines here!