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Food Tour Party: The Cat Lounge (Glenfield, Auckland)

currently: listening to 'Couldn't Believe' by Broods.

Normally a Food Tour Party is all about the food. I get a group of friends, we go out to eat, we talk about the food and we have a good time. However, this Food Tour Party is very different. One is because I didn't actually take any photos of the food. And two, that the food wasn't the reason we went in the first place.

The Cat Lounge in Auckland has been open since November last year; the first cafe of its type in the Auckland area. Funded by a Kickstarter, the numerous names of each supporter is printed on one wall as you enter the cafe section. And with the large backing it received, it's not surprising you need to book for the Cat Lounge beforehand in order to spend $10 for an hour of feline fun.

The cats and the cafe section are strictly divided, for health and safety reasons of course. While you can choose to take food and drinks into the cat section, cats stay hidden away behind a double closed-door system. And it's a very strict access between the two rooms - with the staff in full control over who gets buzzed through.

For the cats, their special room is a complete playground - filled with cat toys, cardboard boxes, a giant tree shelf, a full wall maze and cat bridges. For the humans (20 of them per session), there are plenty of benches to sit on around the room, as well as a fake little lounge playing humorous cat videos above a fake TV fire. You can also read up on each of the cats and their histories while sitting there - with many of the cats from rescues.

Around the room, there are more than a dozen cats running around - but most likely you'll see them all sleeping. In fact, I learned that cats sleep for 18-20 hours a day. What a life.

But the cats are mostly playful or cuddly, and the ones that are awake will generally run around the room. One got too playful/vicious with me when it scratched my hand 5 minutes after I arrived. I avoided that one for the rest of the session... But there were some clear favourites - one, in particular, was a happy ginger cat called Ed Sheeran which always had children running after him, just like the real Ed Sheeran.

The only drawback of the room was trying to share the awake cats with others, while also trying to find places to stroke and cuddle the sleepy cats. The session we were in was joined with a kids' birthday party - which is a great place to have such a party. However, once someone found their spot with a cat, they hardly moved away from them for the rest of the session. And as if trying to make sure you don't hurt the cats wasn't difficult, try doing that with over-excited children running around everywhere. I don't think one realised they ran into me while chasing after one of the white furred cats.

Meanwhile, outside in the actual food section of this food tour party, the small yet bright cafe comes with all the cafe essentials with a full range of drinks and a couple of small cabinets with food. It has a very kid-friendly menu was we saw an entire table of kids chow down on a box set of chips and chicken nuggets.

I myself ordered a regular mango smoothie and a regular box of chips, which satisfied the sugar and salt cravings I had. And while you can't see the cats anymore from the cafe area - it's a nice place to relax and eat as you can hear all the delighted voices and happy kids in the room next door. Because what else is a better place of happiness other than a room full of adorable cats?

Food Tour Party Review:
Money friendliness - worth a bit of a splurge for the experience, while the food is an alright price.
Purchase fun - um YES for the CATS.
Deliciousness factor - the smoothie did hit the spot and the chips were cooked pretty well and crispy. But you're clearly there more for the cats than the food.
Extra tips - Get there early because parking at the Lounge is difficult. There isn't a lot of room and apparently the butchers next door will tow you if you're in one of their parks.

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