When Purrington’s Cat Lounge—Northeast Portland’s café and cat-cuddle parlor—opened just over a year ago, not everyone was convinced. Would the cats be treated like performing circus animals? (Answer: They’re not.) Why couldn’t people bring their own cats to lounge? (For the safety and health of Purrington’s feline residents.) But after a year of navigating this new business, the naysayers have retreated. The cat lounge is thriving and has facilitated the adoption of 146 cats in the past year (full disclosure: one of them was my beloved cat, Yams) while also cultivating a sense of community among its patrons.
Wednesday night yoga, film screenings, and educational events for cat owners fill the schedule at Purrington’s and unite cat lovers from all corners of the city (and beyond). Make an online reservation and then head down to the cat-filled salon for a "meowmosa" or a cat-shaped cookie and some kitty snuggles and you’ll find your gray Portland day immediately brightens. (Germophobes be assured: the cats are kept in a space entirely separated from the food prep area.)
Owners Kristen and Sergio Castillo have clearly made a huge personal investment in the space, and with a heart-warming payoff. “Some of these cats have been at various shelters for a really long time. So when they come here, we see them flourish in a space that’s more home-like and that lets potential adoptive cat-parents see the cats’ true personalities,” says Sergio. Adds Kristen: “The cats really come into their own and it’s beneficial for both parties to see each other in a more natural setting.”
The couple has paired with Cat Adoption Team to supply them with the cats in need—a match, it seems, made in feline heaven. Kristen explains that they chose to partner with CAT “because they had the best history and they were really supportive of our vision. We basically act as just another off-site adoption center for CAT and we happen to also offer food and beverage options.” CAT team members played a big role in helping them set up the space to be centered around the cats’ health and happiness.
Purrington’s isn’t just a place to adopt—you can also come in and hang out with the friendly felines for $8 per hour. Sergio estimates that about 25 percent of their customers come in seriously looking to adopt—the rest are just in to get their feline fix. Be sure to follow the prominently displayed rules, though—as Kristen points out, for most businesses, the customer is always right “but here the cats are always right. We have to do everything we can to ensure their happiness and safety.”
Purrington’s may have started a trend here in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, cities like Tokyo and Paris got the jump on Portland, but the Castillos’ cat lounge was the first of its kind in our corner of the world. Seattle’s Meowtropolitan opened its doors just before Christmas this past year, to mixed reviews.
Purrington’s, however, is gaining fans apace—chalk it up to the Castillos’ cozy space, and Stumptown’s seriously cool cats.
Purrington's is located at 3529 NE MLK, and is open Tuesday through Sunday.