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A pair of cats relax at Purringtons Cat Lounge.

If you were to walk along Martin Luther King Boulevard in Northeast Portland, there’s a high chance you will see a cat unblinkingly staring at you from the huge window that makes up the outside wall of Purringtons Cat Lounge.

Purringtons is the only cat café and adoption center in Oregon. The café, where you can purchase your usual cat-visiting beverages such as tea, beer, wine, and meowmosas, appears like an average coffee shop—if you ignore the cat T-shirts hanging on the wall behind the barista—but the room next to it is far from normal. There, Purringtons houses 8 to 10 cats, who spend their days lounging on the numerous cat beds and getting pet by visiting cat lovers.

Though the cafe has helped more than 420 kitties find their forever (or shall we say, fur-ever) homes, Purringtons helps more than just shelter cats. By granting military veterans and senior citizens (age 65 and over) half off of the regular $8 admission discount, Purringtons gives these populations a chance to relax and de-stress by cuddling with a friendly furball.

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A cat perches by a mural at Purringtons.

When it comes to animals and their mental health benefits, dogs seem to take the limelight—but cats are the unsung heroes. Even just one hour—which is the time limit Purringtons imposes on its cat lounge visitors—with a cat can reduce stress and anxiety greatly. According to a 2012 study, petting cats releases the hormone oxytocin, often called the love hormone, while playing with cats releases serotonin, the feel-good hormone. These special abilities allow cats to help military veterans with the often difficult-to-treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

And that’s not all cats can do, either. Senior citizens who have lost a partner often face loneliness, as do military veterans. Cats provide company without the pressure of conversation. 

Purringtons provides these populations a chance to visit cats in a more relaxed environment than a typical shelter for a lower price, creating a calming and commitment-free atmosphere for both parties. And who knows? Maybe a visitor will connect with a cat and opt to adopt, giving the kitty a forever home and the senior citizen or veteran some much-needed loving company. It’s a win-win for everyone.

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