OK, deep breaths, people: Pittsburgh’s first cat café has opened.

Colony Cafe, a wine bar and cat café, opened Thursday at 1125 Penn Avenue, next to Eide’s downtown near the convention center.

We know you have a lot of questions, so here is what you need to know:

Brian Conway photo
Brian Conway photo

A cat café? That’s a café for cats, where they meet up for cream and read their little cat newspapers, right?

A common misconception. Despite the name, a “cat café” is actually a cafe built for humans, but with cats inside. Especially popular in Taiwan and Japan, the first American cat café opened in 2014 in Oakland, CA.  Then came New York, San Francisco, and a couple dozen others.

Anyone from the public can come to the café, a long and narrow space that is modern, attractive and comfortable. The cats are upstairs in a separate “Cat Loft.” Downstairs, there’s an expansive coffee menu and house-made pastries alongside wine by the glass and bottle and specialty cocktails. The coffee comes from Wisconsin’s Ruby Coffee Roasters –it’s great — and the menu includes truffled popcorn, and dips and spreads such as goat cheese and fig jam spread and manchego and almond pesto. After 4:30, “sharable boards” are also featured, such as a charcuterie platter and gourmet melts like brie with sweet orange marmalade. And yes, you are welcome to take your food and drinks upstairs but you must use disposable plates and cups.

That’s all well and good, but get to the cats already.

To play with the cats you must make reservations! These kitties are in high demand, and they only let in ten people at a time. Reservations run $8 for one hour in the Cat Loft. Once you head upstairs, you enter a lounge space filled with shag carpet, plush sofas, an abundance of cat toys, and yes, 8-12 adorable kitties. You can play with them, pet them, or just watch them nap in the window overlooking Penn Avenue. “This has been the greatest lunch break of my life,” said one recent visitor, Sarah, who was visiting Friday with a pair of colleagues from Point Park University.

Brian Conway photo.
Brian Conway photo.

What happens when I inevitably fall in love with one of these frisky felines?

Good news! All the cats are adoptable, courtesy of Animal Friends. On Colony’s first day alone, four different people asked for adoption papers. Each of the cats has been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Animal Friends selects cats that are sociable and otherwise suited behaviorally to reside in such a space.

Why didn’t I think of this?

While we can’t answer that question specifically, we can tell you that Erik and Sue Hendrickson, owners of Colony, moved to Pittsburgh from Brooklyn pretty much on a whim, and specifically to open a cat café. They attended the very first pop-up cat café in New York in 2014 and knew they wanted to open one in a city that didn’t have one yet, especially since they were both fed up with corporate jobs that were “killing [them] slowly.” One of Erik’s coworkers said that Pittsburgh was nice, and after a few weekend visits, they now call Shadyside home.

When can we visit?

Colony is open Tuesday – Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Cat Loft is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., excluding an hour of visitor-free cat nap time from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m..

Can you show us one more cat photo?


Brian Conway photo
Brian Conway photo

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.