I recently visited the Pacific Northwest’s first cat cafe, Purringtons Cat Lounge in Portland. I visited on a sunny Saturday afternoon with my daughter Zinnia to celebrate her 18th birthday. We both love cats, a love that later led to our love for dogs, so we figured a visit to Purringtons would be a great way to celebrate the day.
We arrived a few minutes before our reserved visit time and ordered matcha tea and a kitty shaped sugar cookie. Reservations to visit the kitties at Purringtons are highly recommended, as the lounge can accommodate a limit on the number of guests at one time in order to prevent the kitties from getting overstimulated.
There are two rooms that guests can visit at Purringtons. The first is a little cafe where you can order beverages and snacks, as well as cat-themed merchandise. You may sit at the bar with your refereshments and watch the kitty lounge through a large window. If you want to visit the cats, you pay an $8 cover charge per guest (which goes toward the care of the adoptable kitties). You get one hour to sit and play or simply watch the cats, which are from Cat Adoption Team, a feline rescue that has been operating in Portland.
The hostess is familiar with the personalities of each cat inside. She explains that the cats are free to come and go as they please, and pointed out a small door that leads to a private room that they may retreat to as they wish.
We weren’t there to adopt a cat, as we have several cats at home, but we did enjoy visiting with those that were there. The atmosphere is calm, clean, and casual. Cat-themed pillows adorn the human furniture and modern cat pieces which will inspire any cat lover. In fact that was one of my primary questions for a later interview via email with Kristen and Sergio Castillo, the proprietors of the cafe.
Kezia Willingham for Catster: What gave you the idea to start a cat cafe in Portland? What was your vision?
Kristen Castillo for Purringtons: I had an epiphany when I saw a video of Café des Chats in Paris in October 2013. I started researching the very next day. My husband and I knew this model would fit well in Portland culture. Our hope is that it will be a uniquely Portland destination, like Powell’s Books and the Japanese Garden.
How did you choose the name?
Over burgers with Sergio. It was originally going to be called the Petting Parlor but we were having a hard time finding a location in a older building with a parlor feel, so that’s what happened.
How did you decide which adoption agency to work with? What do potential adopters need to know about your process?
Lots of suggestions and research pointed us to this wonderful organization. They have such wide reaching resources and help cats from all across the country. It’s really working out quite nicely. [As of July 22, Purringtons had found homes for 52 cats.]
We insist that cats be indoors at all times. We also insist on no declawing. Renters must have landlord permission — and these are meant to be lifelong homes. A profile form is filled out and an appointment is made to conduct the adoption. We don’t do same day adoptions. It takes about 45 minutes and you are on your way home with your new buddy!
How did you decide which menu items to include in the cafe?
Because we are in Portland, we insisted on serving draft microbrews and wine. We needed to obtain a restaurant license in order to do that so it made perfect sense to offer housemade items as well. We like to keep it quick and simple to get customers served fast and into the lounge for their kitty time.
What are your goals for the future?
We had the mezzanine area built to be load-bearing so one day we can expand up and create a sitting area above the lounge. Also, we’d like to move our office to the area above the cafe, creating more space in what is now the office. Possible other locations are always in the back of our busy minds, too.
Do you have suggestions for out-of-town visitors?
We love to look at the reservations and see where folks are coming from, if other than Portland. Reservations are recommended for the weekends, but not required.
During the weekdays, we are pretty open for now. We expect more traffic once tourist season kicks in. It’s always good to check the reservation system on our website. There is a public parking lot across MLK and lots of neighborhood parking all around. (Don’t park in any lots that threaten towing!) We are open to the possibility of a same-day adoption for someone who is within driving distance and if the circumstances are right.
How many cats do you have? Do you have any dogs?
Sergio and I have four cats of our own at home, including Mystery, who was adopted from our lounge! And nope, no doggies. We love them to pieces but we have always been big travelers and cats are so much easier for us.
Where did you get the amazing cat furniture? I especially love the “honeycomb” pieces. Also, are these attached to the wall? I want some for my house!
A friend, Levon Cullen, donated his hard labor to the cause and assembled that thing in his shop. We are a work in progress and will have more catification stuff in the future. I can give you his contact info — he is up for more projects!
Are there any Portland area pet stores you’d recommend to fellow cat lovers who like to add to their pet furniture/supplies collections?
Square Cat Habitat is a local company that makes a variety of towers, one of which we have in the lounge. We’ve had some really talented people donate handmade stuff, and for that we and the kitties are all very grateful!
Read more about cat cafes on Catster:
About Kezia Willingham: Kezia, also known as The Breadwinning Laundry Queen, works as the Health Coordinator for a Head Start program and lives with her family, which includes a pack of rescued animals, in Seattle. She writes for Catster and Dogster and has been published in The New York Times, Literary Mama, the Seattle Times, and xoJane.com. She has a master’s degree in Social Work and a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Sciences. You can follow her on Twitter @KeziaWillingham.