The Cat Cuddle Cafe And 499 Cats

In the inner Brisbane suburb of Lutwyche there is a unique cafe that attracts cat lovers from all over the city. It’s the not-for-profit Cat Cuddle Cafe and I got to chat with its founder, Katina Balson, as they close in on their 500th adoption. A few weeks earlier I happened to drive through Lutwyche and spotted the cafe along the busy road. What was this magical place? I asked myself. The words resonated with me. Cat. Cuddle. Cafe. Cat Cuddle Cafe. But as I tried to sneak peaks inside the lights changed and I had to carry on with my day – I knew I had to return! [vcm_short_ad] So there I was, on a hot Friday summer afternoon – joined by Steph, both with our cameras in hand – ready for what I would later describe as a quintessential Brisbane experience for any cat lover.
Where is it?
Other places we have visited

Catuccino Dreams

Inside, we were welcomed by Katina who was preparing for the busy weekend ahead. Katina describes herself as the crazy cat lady of Brisbane – and she has some serious credentials to back that up with. For over 35 years Katina has been assisting cats in need through her work at the RSPCA, animal rescue organisations, and supporting injured wildlife. But it wasn’t until the mid-90s that she started her own rescue organisation, Pussies Galore Rescue. You wouldn’t even know how many you’ve adopted out in all those years? I asked. We’ve rescued thousands, every time I go to a vet there’s a cat or human I know. Pussies Galore Rescue runs without a shelter with all their kitties being fostered out with their amazing volunteers.
The work of Katina and her team has rescued thousands of Brisbane cats

Cat Everything

Katina soon opened up an Op shop to help fundraise, but her ultimate dream was to create a cat cafe as a social enterprise – with all the profits going back into the rescue operations. In 2015 that dream was realised and the whole of Brisbane got on board. The cafe was a huge success and it wasn’t long before it outgrew it’s location. Katina and her team have truly created something special. The new premises consists of a main room and is home to the Op/Gift shop and cafe, while the cats room is out the back. The whole place is delightfully thought-out to say the least. As we ordered a coffee and cake we had a look at the items in the shop. It was clear that the stock had been carefully curated with the cat lover in mind. Cat Clothing. Cat badges. Cat Pins. Cat Books. Cat everything! There was an awesome selection of clothing, books, and gifts both new and used.

The Cuddle Zone

People can drop in anytime to browse the shop or indulge in the cafe, but let’s be honest, the cuddle zone is the reason we are here! There are ten sessions every day where visitors can book in to see the cats, and each session is limited to ten people. It was now 5pm. It was our time! We took our coffees through, and after washing our hands, passed through the cat-lock. The cat-lock prevents overenthusiastic cats from sneaking home with you without filling out the required paperwork. (Cats hate paperwork). Out of the 100 cats currently in care through the rescue operation, 18 of them are living at the cafe awaiting their adoptions. As we entered the room – along with a young couple who had also booked in – we saw cats everywhere. Some may have called it.. cat heaven. Rita lay snoozing on the cat tree while her sisters climbed below. Sheldon looked down from the cat run above. Millicent and Matilda were roughhousing in the cat tunnel. Augustus was running on the cat wheel. Others glanced up expectantly, ready to play with their new visitors. The comfy couches and furniture offered lots of spots to sit while interacting with the kitties, and as we worked our way around the room meeting our new friends we snapped up as many photos as we could.
Zenobia set aside some time to run us through the current adoption portfolio.

Purrsonal Assistants

As Katina introduced us to some of the faces, three volunteers were packing up mince for the week. The cats eat fresh meat each night, Katina told us – and quality dry food during the day. Though the cats favourite snack is an exquisite mixture of top of the range dry food. The end result is a treat that has been nicknamed ‘kitty crack’ for few can resist it. The product has become quite a hit and premixed bags of it are sold in the shop to the public. Katina praises the volunteers that make the rescue operation possible – the foster carers and coordinator, the volunteers at the cafe, and of course the people who support the operation by visiting. Though Carol, who had just finished packing the dinners, was quick to interject, we’re not volunteers, we are purrrrrsonal assistants. We’re all cat assistants at the end of the day aren’t we?
Delilah found a quiet spot to watch out from
A good time to visit the Cat Cuddle Cafe is during the week when it’s quieter, and if you come after 5 you’ll get to see dinner time. As the volunteers prepared the meals the kitties gathered around.
Augustus finishing his dinner
Rani spends her time in the overhead cat run
Rani, who is still warming to strangers, popped down from the cat run for her dinner. She loves people patting her but she won’t come down, Katina told us. A small chalk board hung on the wall with the number 499. We’ve got a campaign at the moment for the 500th adoption [through the cafe]. But we’ve had a stale mate for over a week. With so many cats awaiting adoptions I asked if it was hard finding suitable homes for them. More than 60% of the time we have to say no, we don’t want to click through the numbers, but we don’t get many returns. But some cats captured Katina’s heart more than others and one of those was Big Daddy.

A Life of Love

He was such a badly abused cat, neglected, and starved.  Big Daddy was rescued twelve years ago by Katina from what she described as a horror situation along with 22 other cats. He had no hair because he was stuck in a cage and over-grooming. The other ones were so cage crazy they could only pace metre by metre. With Katina’s love, he turned from frightened to the most cuddly of cats. The rest of the 22 were adopted out but Big Daddy stayed on to live and love in Katina’s home, twelve years of love. It is this week that we sadly say goodbye to this special cat but celebrate the love that he’s given. Big Daddy was just one of the many cats that have had their lives changed forever through the work of Katina and her team.
Magnus cleaning his paw

Until Next Time

With full bellies, the post-dinner sleepies were now sinking in. Rita got back to napping on the cat tree. Morris and Magnus took a bath. Rani hopped back up to the cat run, and her sisters settled in for an evening playing on the floor. It was now time to say goodnight, but not before picking up a bag of ‘kitty crack’ to take back to the van for Willow! So we left, hoping that the chalkboard will read ‘500’ before too long.

* * *

The Cat Cuddle Cafe and Pussies Galore Rescue are a not-for-profit social enterprise that relies solely on its own fundraising efforts. If you are in Brisbane, the best way to help out is to indulge in the cafe and shop, or book a cat cuddle session. Find out more at and also to donate directly or check out their pawsome online store. Or, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter Remember: for anyone with a cat sized hole in their heart, all the cats photographed are available for adoption. The Cat Cuddle Cafe, truly a quintessential Brisbane experience for any cat lover!
Profile Photo

Van Cat Meow

Please try again.
Thanks for joining us! A welcome email is on its way to you!

Come along for the ride!

Willow has captured the hearts of thousands around the world as she travels through the wilds of Australia. Join our newsletter and see for yourself.

As seen on:

Lonely Planet

The Daily Telegraph

Business Insider

People Magazine

Sunrise TV



Cart Item Removed. Undo
  • No products in the cart.