The Colony Café, in the Strip District, lets patrons enjoy coffee, wine, light fare and snuggling with cats | Animal Issue | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Colony Café, in the Strip District, lets patrons enjoy coffee, wine, light fare and snuggling with cats

A dozen ready-to-adopt cats are the highlight of this cafe

“Wanna hang out? Maybe get a coffee?”
“Wanna hang out? Maybe get a coffee?”

Turns out that there was a hole in Pittsburgh shaped like a “cat café” — that is, a spot where people can pay a small fee to hang out with cats. Sue Hendrickson, who co-owns Colony Café with her husband, Erik, says business at their Strip District venue has been “gangbusters,” since the coffee shop and wine bar opened in February.

Colony, on Penn Avenue opposite the bus station, is a two-fer. Its first floor is a bright, airy café offering coffee, wine and light fare, and open to humans only. But above the café is a glass-enclosed mezzanine, the Cat Loft, where a dozen “homeless” cats await visitors, with or without their drinks.

The cats come from Animal Friends, and are vaccinated, microchipped and ready to be adopted. They’ve also been assessed as good fits for the café — “these guys are the more social ones,” Hendrickson explains — and new homes (hint hint). Should a patron find a suitable cat companion, there is a $75 adoption fee and a short form to fill out; processing takes a day or two.

Access to the cat area is $8 an hour, and limited to 10 people at a time. Reservations can be made online, and are recommended for the busiest times (happy hour, weekends). The Cat Loft is reminiscent of an au courant business hotel with pleasing neutral colors, glass walls and an assortment of comfy chairs. There’s a basket of approved toys. The litter boxes are out of sight, in an anteroom accessible through a cat-sized door. Every cat wants a forever home, but “living” at the cat café seems very pleasant; most cats were peacefully sleeping on pillows when City Paper visited.

The Weyandt family — Jack, Lisa and their 7-year-old son, Tyler — were thrilled with the cat café, a first-time visit they had bundled into a trip to the Heinz History Museum around the corner. “It’s a different type of place to get a snack and a drink,” Lisa says. And she can’t wait to bring other family members to Colony, including one who had even been thinking of visiting a cat café in Japan, where they originated. The Weyandts have two cats at home, but one is 13 years old. “We’d probably come back here,” to look for a new cat, Jack says, nuzzling a sweet gray-and-white cat named Emmy.

But the Cat Loft doesn’t require any full commitments: Folks can take a lunch break and share their workplace woes with a sympathetic tabby; or book the room for a social event (wine, plus cats!). But should one be in the market for a pet cat, a visit to the loft is a great way to sort out compatibility in a space relaxing for both man and beast. Already, 36 Colony cats have been adopted, filling three dozen cat-shaped holes in area homes.

Café hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Tue. and Wed.; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Thu. and Fri.; and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. Cat Loft is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Sat.; closed for cat nap daily 2-3 p.m. Colony Café, 1125 Penn Ave., Strip District. 412-586-4850 or