Snickers. Photo by Emma J. Nelson.

The Purr-fect Place 

Cat cafés and lounges have been gaining popularity in the U.S. for the last 10 years, but the first in Eugene-Springfield is now open

Soothing lo-fi music emanates from the speakers as the gas fireplace warms the room. Clad in slippers, up to eight guests are welcomed in by the “mrrps” of the lounge’s furry residents. For the next 50 minutes, visitors to the Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge are encouraged to play, cuddle and bond with the cats and kittens fostered on site.

Cat lounge owner Michelle Wyatt didn’t have pets of her own growing up, and she didn’t get her own cat until she was 23 years old. Ever since, Wyatt has loved cats, she says, even attending cat shows to see what all the fuss was about. 

After leaving her decades-long medical practice in 2021, Wyatt visited cat cafés across the country. The idea of starting her own began brewing back in late June 2023, she says. She visited a cat café in Vancouver, Canada, and realized that there was nothing like it back home.

“There were no cat lounges in [Lane County] when I started,” Wyatt says. “So it would be unique and novel.”

Seven months later on Jan. 31, Wyatt opened the doors of Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge at 537 W. Centennial Blvd.

The cat lounge truly feels unique upon entry. Tabby and tuxedo cat clocks welcome customers from the wall, tails swinging. The gift shop dominates the entranceway, carrying a plethora of subtle and definitely unsubtle cat-themed merchandise. The most appealing, however, is the window on the back wall.

Behind the window, cats run, play, nap and get to know potential owners. Guests leave their shoes at the door, changing into socks or slippers to prevent tracking in dirt or stepping on paws.

Sam Spayde, the assistant manager, works from a desk within the lounge and often has a cat on her lap as she designs advertisements for the business.

“It’s so relaxing,” Spayde says. “Just hanging out with cats, being able to work on the ads for the company while there’s a cat in my lap? Yes, it’s the best.”

Although spending all day with cats sounds peaceful, the staff of Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge are hard at work maintaining the health of the rescues under their care, Spayde says.

Wyatt has only ever owned rescued animals, she says, and she highly encourages others to do the same — to provide cats in need with a good home. That, however, is not the only goal of Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge, she says.

“There are a lot of people who can’t have cats at home for whatever reasons,” Wyatt says. “This is a place for people to come hang out with cats, whether they are interested in adoption or not.”

There are currently nine cats from Cat Rescue and Adoption Network luxuriating at the cat lounge: Cocoa Bean, Granola, Mochi, Binx, Blackietoes, Marcus, Freddy, Fifi and Jennifer. Mochi and Binx are a bonded pair, as are Marcus and Freddy.

Each staff member lists their favorite of the cats in their website bio. After visiting the lounge for an afternoon, Eugene Weekly is divided. Some preferred Binx’s laidback, cuddly nature whereas others delighted in Snickers’ playfulness and can-do attitude. Snickers has since been adopted.

Potential adoptees must go through CRAN to adopt the cats fostered. Cats adopted through CRAN cost anywhere from $70 to $175 based on the age of the cat (kittens cost the most) and the needs (seniors and special needs cats cost the least). All cats at the lounge are spayed/neutered and microchipped before arriving on site.

Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge has arranged 13 adoptions with one more pending since it opened, Wyatt says.

“The biggest thing is to help the cats,” Spayde says. “They’re the reason we’re here. Customers are amazing, but I think in the end it all boils down to we need to get these guys to their happy forever homes.”

Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge, 537 W. Centennial Boulevard, Springfield, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm with a brief closure from 2 to 3 pm every day. One hour in the lounge costs $12 per person on weekdays; $15 per person on weekends.