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The Reluctant Adventurer: Cat Lady Training at Purringtons Cat Lounge

Monday, February 02, 2015


Princess Miko.

I live in Portland and I write a column called "The Reluctant Adventurer."

That means that at least a couple times a week, I get an email saying, "YOU HAVE TO DO THIS FOR YOUR COLUMN," with a link to a ridiculous, sporty, or hippie-like activity.

Ecstatic dance. Underwater Hockey (really). And now, Purringtons Cat Lounge.

Of course you opened a cat lounge, Portland. Of course you did.

“Reservation for two?”

You can’t just show up at Purringtons, you have to reserve your spot. I signed on to their reservation system through Facebook, and the process was very simple. Although it may have been a ruse to get me to befriend a bunch of cats, which I totally will because if you can get a cat to like you, you must be cool because they hate everyone.

Once your reservation is made, you should arrive at least 15 minutes prior so you can check in and order snacks and some wine to wash down all the cat rejection. If you arrive late, you won’t get your full hour in the cat lounge and that would be a tragedy.

Purringtons has two sides: one is the café where you can sit at a long bar right outside the cat lounge and watch the cats through the glass; the other, through two doors, is the cat café itself (what I like to call the “Lounge of Indifference.”)

Food and Drink

While we waited, we ordered wine (on the weekends they offer meowmosas, which made me curse the fact that we came on a Wednesday) and perused the menu. It’s mostly small-bite stuff: cheese plates, chips and a house-made salsa, deviled eggs. They also have some beautiful pastries from Fleur de Lis bakery.

Because my date had come under the mistaken assumption that viewing the cats through the glass was what he called a “lobster tank situation,” we chose the lavender sugar cookies in the shape of a cat, which seemed like a good compromise between playing with the cats and eating them.

The Rules

Before entering the Indifference Lounge, we all had to be clear on the rules – no picking up the cats, no feeding the cats, no poking at a sleeping cat, no loud noises and no getting so intoxicated as to endanger the animals with your cat-ecstatic jackassery.

Aside from a fantastically fun full-wall mural of futuristic space cats, the lounge doesn’t have a ton of style—but that’s to be expected if you’re going to have cats wrecking the place. Lush, velvet chairs ripe for a good clawing would be a terrible idea, for instance. That being said, probably my biggest complaint is that even with their limitations they could make the lounge a bit more welcoming and cohesive visually.

But then again, the furniture’s not the star of the show. The CATS ARE.

Kitties, You Guys. Kitties

Since every cat is different, it would be impossible to characterize the cat service at Purringtons in one sweeping judgment, so the only choice here is to review the cats one-by-one. (Cats are changed out at various times, so YOUR CATS MAY VARY.)

Normally, there are 8-10 cats who cycle in and out of the lounge during your hour. During our hour, we came into contact with five of them. (BTW, if you’re concerned that the cats have no choice but to be poked and prodded by the public, don’t be. They have a tiny little cat door near the entrance where they can escape any time they like to have some “me(ow) time.”)

Sorry. It’s contagious.

The Cats

Mystery spent our entire visit in a cat bed under a bench, napping. Obviously, we found this version of “service” completely unacceptable. Y’know what, Mystery? When I was bussing tables, I had a manager who used to say, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” The same goes for the cats at Purringtons. If you have time to nap, you have time to insanely run after this laser pointer as if it just killed your brother.
Service: D
Adorableness: A+
Overall Grade: B+




Begonia came out of the gate with flair and a clear dedication to customer satisfaction. Do you want me to play in the weird tube that lights up? I’ll do it! And you’ll never know which body part will fly out to attack the feather teaser next! Her performance had mystery and the kind of enthusiasm that says, “Yes. I care about your experience at Purringtons, and I hope you’ll come back and bring tuna. But now I’m going to poop in the other room.”
Service: A+
Adorableness: A+
Overall Grade: A+



Aw. You're so pretty.

Princess Miko

This may sound crass, but Princess Miko is one of those employees whose physical attractiveness precludes any need for her to be good at her job. Did she have some trouble understanding the concept of the weird roll-y tube? Sure she did. But those eyes. That soft, angora-esque hair. It was mesmerizing. Plus, she spent a good solid half hour ignoring us and/or looking at us derisively, which made us love her the best.
Service: C
Adorableness: A++++
Overall Grade: We wish there was a score better than an A because it’s all about being pretty. But A+



Run, Boo! Run like the wind!


Boo spent our hour either perched on the top of the cat tree surveying the room, or running the gauntlet toward the cat door, expertly avoiding the outstretched hands of his admirers. He was a badass.
Service: Doesn’t matter
Adorableness/Badassness: A+
Overall Grade: What does he care? Screw you. He rules.





Pollie spent some good, solid time with a lovely family who adored her, but most of her energy was spent looking at the door and WHAT IS OUT THERE I WANT TO SEE IT IS IT EDIBLE CAN I CLIMB IT WHAT ARE THOSE LIGHTS CAN I WHACK THEM WHY WON’T YOU LET ME OUT THERE’S BETTER STUFF TO WHACK OUT THERE I’M SURE OF IT IS THAT A BUG? As a person who believes the grass is always greener on the other side of the Cat Lounge, I probably related to Pollie the most.
Service: C
Adorableness: A+
Overall Grade: B



Overall Cat Lounge Experience
Sure, every cat was different, but let’s be honest here: if you’re a cat lover, just the experience of walking into a room with 8-10 cats in it causes the holy sh*t synapses in your brain to fire in such a way that wine and beer aren’t really necessary. Because, KITTIES.

I thought this would be just another fun and cute oh-so-Portlandy quirky experience, but I found myself absolutely GIDDY when the cat door pushed in and another cat sauntered into the room. It made me re-think my previous poo-pooing of a future as a cat lady. I can totally see the appeal now.

You’re either a cat person or you’re not, but I think if you’re a cat person and you don’t enjoy Purringtons, you may be permanently broken inside. Because, did I mention there are lots of effing kitties?



The Best Part

The most amazing part of all of this is that Purringtons is a partnership between owners Kristen and Sergio Castillo and the Cat Adoption Team. Essentially, they’re fostering/renting these cats and everyone who comes in is a potential permanent home for them.

Adoptions are by appointment only, but the best way to start is by making a reservation and checking out what’s available with a glass of wine and a cat-shaped cookie.

If you’re interested in any of these cats (besides Begonia and Princess Miko who are both on hold as of this writing), make a reservation and enjoy the hour.

It was one of the best cat-shopping/drinking dates I’ve ever had, and, like most of you, I’ve had a lot of them.

Not really.



Temporary Cat tattoos.Couldn't find one that said, "Hug Life."

Purrington’s Cat Lounge

3529 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Recommended for: Cat lovers, wine lovers, beer lovers, people with laser pointers.

Not recommended for: The allergic, people with low self-esteem.






Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer.


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