By Evelyn Allee
If you would use the word “cozy” to describe your ideal cafe experience, look no further than the Nine Lives Cat Cafe located in Fountain Square.
The first and only cat cafe to open in Indianapolis, Nine Lives entered the coffee shop scene 3 years ago when Selena Hubbard and her father Eric Hubbard decided to make their dream of starting a business together a reality. Taking a cue from the many cat cafes popping up across Asian countries, they felt that Indy needed one of these cat-lover’s paradises as well.
They teamed up with the Humane Society of Indianapolis, which selected cats whose sociable personalities lent themselves to constant contact with other cats and people. Since then the cafe has consistently had between 7 and 14 cats at a time. And yes, they are up for adoption through the Humane Society!
The cat room is a perfect cross between your grandmother’s sitting room and your best friend’s homey apartment, with plenty of cat toys, of course. And most importantly, there were some of the friendliest cats I’d ever met!
Fully expecting to be a fly on the wall watching the cats do their thing, I plopped myself down on the couch when I arrived and waited respectfully. But I didn’t wait for long, because a plump calico named Calliope settled down right next to me and let herself be petted. Not long after she left, a little tabby with a tiger-like face named Bones got in my lap and stayed a long time, purring and snuggling, and showing more interest in me than my own cats usually do.
I wondered if there was ever fighting among the cats, remembering how long it took mine to adapt to each other when introduced, but Selena says that other than the occasional hiss or swat, the kitties get along just fine. That certainly seemed to be the case, each cat was content to mind their own business and share the space. A little black and white cat named JT surveyed the room from a baby cradle by the door, some others napped on cat trees, and others roamed around the room looking from person to person for affection, but they barely seemed to notice each other’s existence. For cats and humans alike, the lounge is a peaceful haven from outside stresses.
But don’t worry if you’re allergic or just not a cat person, the coffee counter and restaurant area is a cat-free zone. Some people stop by just to get a cup of their yummy coffee. Selena is a former barista, so she has the skills and expertise to make the cafe hold its own as a must-visit coffee shop even aside from the feline feature. If you visit and want to hang out in the cat lounge, they recommend making a reservation, especially on the weekends.
For only $5 for an hour, I’d say it’s worth it! For the safety of the cats, they only allow a maximum of 12 people at a time so be sure to plan ahead. Also keep an eye out for their events like Pawmaste – yoga with cats, or their occasional comedy shows. They are also considering movie nights or a book club, so follow them on Instagram or Facebook to keep up! You may also visit them online at ninelivesindy.com.
Evelyn Allee is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. Want to share your story and write for Heartbeat Indy? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.