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  • Writer's pictureNayanika Dey

Cat Café Studio - A cat café at Versova

I'm no newcomer to the concept of animal cafes. I follow enough Instagram pages to know that Japan has tried to domesticate (and sometimes failed) every cute and manageably-sized animal in existence for cafe display.

However, when I randomly came across the Cat Café Studio Instagram page, I was delighted to find something so close to home that had a mixed seating and petting zone (with no extra petting charges)! But those were the earlier days and things have changed since then.

A look at Cat Café Studio

When I first visited Cat Café Studio as an architecture intern in 2019, it was a wonderfully cozy place. All you had to do to get access into the petting zone was order some food. There was a separate outdoor area for those who did not want to eat their food amidst cats.

The cats themselves ranged from all types of rescued street breeds - some missing an eye, a leg, an eye, or more. All of them were vaccinated, toilet-trained, and adorable. A board displayed all their names (someone on the team is an anime fan!). A TV displayed cat memes.

The tables were small with wooden seating - all at cat level. You could pet cats with one hand and engage the other in trying to keep the away from the food. Like people, they had different personalities -I've never met an orange cat that liked humans and never met a grey and white one that was not so.

If you're a cat person - you must know that cats don't necessarily love people. So, going there with the expectation that the cats are going to rush into your lap is a very wrong (and eventually disappointing one). The cafe also has rules like not picking up the cats to make them more comfortable in their home-cum-rehabilitation space. If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll find a nice playful cat sitting in your lap without deciding to move (seen here: this person).

I have visited the place at least thrice with different groups of people, and everyone was just as delighted to find this gem of a place located in a Versova alley, 5 mins away from the ocean.

Since the pandemic, I have debated going there multiple times. Things have changed. The food and cat petting area are now segregated. You can enjoy food at their outdoor (non-AC) seating with 1 dog and 2 sleepy cats.

The earlier indoor cat zone is now a cat-only zone. You can remove your shoes and enter the space furnished with cat furniture, items for sale, and wooden tables with stools. The floor is strewn with cat toys and overall, it is very clean without a strong smell. There is now an additional rate of 200 INR per person per hour to enter the cat zone.

Compared to other pet cafes in Mumbai, this is undoubtedly a cheaper rate. Pawfect Life charges the same rate of 200. Others like Café Pefe are a bit more expensive. And yet, 200 per PERSON per HOUR to enjoy a time with vaccinated, rescued cats who may/ may not (mostly may not) appreciate your company? 200 per PERSON per HOUR to pet street cats that roam around my place anyway?

An hour will always feel like a short time and I do think the rate could be extended to a group instead of a person. As for the food - it is mediocre at best. The tea is a bit watery, the pizza not as tasty and everything slightly tinted with blandness- but people visit the place for the cats anyway.

The cats are also forever revolving except for the oldie Papa Louie. And they are undoubtedly cute, though they do get tired of all the people handling them and often prefer their peace. You get to meet a mixed bag of cats ranging from extremely friendly to extremely scared ones. There are those that I have never seen awake, multiple three-legged cats who prefer higher grounds (see above).

The last time I visited, the cats were fed around 5 PM and were highly active. Sometimes, if you visit too late or in the afternoon, you'll find them all sleeping in their places. And there's not much you can do then!

Wrapping Up: Was it worth it?

Overall, I do think the earlier scheme worked better - it kept the place lively and fun. But it is easy to see why the pandemic made such changes necessary. Apart from cats, they also host other pop-up events like inviting watercolor or tattoo artists. It's a great place to find cats to adopt. Cat Café Studio hosts adoption and vaccination camps.

Sometimes they even host other events - like second-hand book sales (I got each book for Rs. 10!) or thrift clothing sales (used clothes for Rs. 100 each). On the whole, it's a great place to visit at least once, despite all my cribbing for the fee.

You can keep up with them on the Cat Café Studio Instagram page. And while you're at it, you can have a look at the Versova beach - Both are located only 10 mins (walking) away from the Versova metro station.

Best time to visit: Mid-morning or early evening (if you want active cats)

Spending range: 200 INR per person per hour + food extra

Rating: ✰✰✰/5

Images by Aakansh Chaturvedi.

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