What makes a happy workplace? Ask Mike from The Cat Lounge and he’ll tell you it’s the people you work with that matter most. And the cats.
In November 2015 Mike left behind a corporate job in the banking sector to open New Zealand’s first cat café. He says the people he worked with were the main reason he stayed in the corporate world for so long.
“It was incredibly boring but some of the people there were really lovely” he says. “That's what kept me there for eight years. But there is only so long you can sit in front of a computer screen day-in, day-out doing a job you don’t enjoy!”
Mike’s new colleagues, however, are altogether different. They include hospo-queen, busy mum of three and business partner Vicky, as well as furry co-workers Ritchie McClaw, Ron Weasley, Maraetai, Jazz and Smudge.
The Cat Lounge concept is simple: create a dream playroom for cats – complete with climbing frames, runs, hidey-holes and cat-bowls overflowing with Friskies cat biscuits – add a top class café serving delicious food and quality coffee (in a hygienically cat-free area), switch on the music and open the doors to the cat-loving public.
The cat café was a concept that Mike and Vicki had seen modelled overseas and thought it could be successful here. And they were right. In the first five months The Cat Lounge has seen over 10,000 visitors, has attracted 17,500 likes on Facebook, and at peak times customers have had to book up to three days in advance for some quality cat-time.
The café attracts a wide demographic of cat-lovers - young people, families, tourists and the elderly all flock to spend time with the 17 cats in residence. With such a wide demographic, everything is carefully considered – from the décor to the music they play.
“Background music was always part of the plan after reading reviews online about silent, awkward cat cafes overseas” says Mike. “We play a good mix of chilled out tunes - relaxing melodic music, chill-step and remixes, nothing too heavy. We even tried "cat music" that we found online, but the cats didn’t seem interested..”
The Cat Lounge holds a OneMusic Hospitality Licence, which gives them the permission they need to play music in the café. The licence fee The Cat Lounge pays to OneMusic is in turn paid to music creators as royalties, helping to make sure that more music can be made for cat-lovers world over.
The Cat Lounge brings joy into people’s lives – from children having treatment at Starship to elderly who can no longer have cats after moving to rest homes. Mike and Vicky have been extremely pleased with the growth of the café, and Mike has finally found job satisfaction, saying “It’s a very rewarding job getting to make people smile every day, that’s for sure”.
The Cat Lounge is located on Archers Road in Glenfield on Auckland’s North Shore. To book in some snuggle time or to meet the cats visit: www.thecatlounge.co.nz