After some delays, Jody Godin, owner of Lily Pad Cat Lounge on Portland Street in Dartmouth, opened the lounge’s doors for the first time Monday.
Unlike cat cafés, Lily Pad is a lounge where no food is prepared onsite. Due to food safety regulations, customers must buy pre-packaged drinks and food, if desired, before going into the lounge to be with the cats.
Godin said it took longer than anticipated to get started due to building requirements, a power outage and a pane of glass being delivered with a crack. She kept supporters updated on the Lily Pad Facebook page.
“It’s been really hard not being able to give people exact deadlines,” said Godin.
Godin considered opening a cat lounge about two years ago. She read about a cat café in Vancouver that had to close for a week because all their cats were adopted.
All of the cats at Lily Pad are adoptable through the SPCA, with adoptions facilitated by Godin.
“If you go to the SPCA, it’s really hard to get a good gauge on what the personality of the cat is like,” said Godin in an interview on Sunday. “(Lily Pad) is a good opportunity to get some of the really sociable cats out and give them more exposure.”
Right now, there are three cats at Lily Pad: Rea, Klaus and Georgia. In the future, Godin hopes to have 10 to 12 cats there.
One-hour admission to the lounge costs $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12, plus the price of any drinks or snacks purchased.
When she was first planning to open Lily Pad, Godin ran a crowdfunding campaign to help with costs.
Bonnie Botham, one of the crowdfunders, was at Lily Pad on Sunday night ahead of the official opening.
“I love the idea of giving cats exposure so people can meet them, greet them and see what they’re like,” said Botham, who contributed to the fund after going to a cat café in Montreal.
Chelsea MacDonald, one of Godin’s first customers, agreed.
Like, Botham, she visited a cat café in Montreal and has been waiting to see something similar in Halifax. She expects to be a regular at Lily Pad.
“Halifax really needed something like this. It’s a really relaxing experience, and cats are great,” said MacDonald. “I like the fact that they’re all for adoption and it’s just such a happy space.”
For Godin, it’s also important that the cats are having a good time. There’s a room closed to the public where the cats can go to rest, eat and use the litter box. That way, they’re never forced to be somewhere they don’t want to be.
Even though she’s their caretaker, Godin said it won’t be difficult to watch the cats get adopted.
“Initially it’s really hard to do, but then you realize it’s for the cats,” she said. “They’re going to a better home; I’m just kind of that in-between to get them there.”
Once the lounge’s regular hours are set, they will be announced on the Facebook page and website.