When my daughter first suggested that we stop in at the Purrvana Cafe & Cat Lounge at 1402 Barnard Street in Savannah, Georgia, I was skeptical. I pictured a dining experience marred by a mess of furry seasoning. If I want pet-hair in my soup, I can eat at home.
As we approached the café, a billboard welcomed with an appropriate sentiment for the chilly Savannah day- “It’s kitty cuddling weather.” As we stepped into the slim shop, we were greeted by a croissant menu, wafts of freshly brewed coffee, and a large window divider that separates the café from cuddling headquarters.
We ordered our grub and thirty minutes of cat cuddle time for $5 each. The pretty cashier explained that the cats I watched leap to and fro in the Victorian style parlor behind the glass were available for adoption. All cuddle fees go to their feeding and care. Since the café opened in October 2017, the café has placed twenty-two cats in forever homes.
As soon as our food was ready, we were taken back outside to an outer door (separation of kitchen and animals is the law in Georgia) and into a small vestibule where we were asked to sanitize our hands before entering the surprisingly sweet-smelling feline abode.
Upon entry, we were warned that Noir (a large black cat with a leopard face) could swipe our bakery goods at any time, and that eating while standing might be best. We sat in a couple of wingback chairs, drinking coffee and eating without a single swat from the curious critters.
Melted onto high shelves without a care, diving and dancing up the bars on the front window and lazing in the noon sun on a window seat, a dozen creatures occupied the lounge. A laser pointer toy rested on a highboy armoire and I used it to entice a pretty gray gal into play.
While spending time with the lovelies was wonderful, the true benefits of the cat café were not clear until more patrons arrived. The first, a young woman wearing a heavy wool coat and cat-eared knit cap, sat next to a curled-up napper on the elegant sofa. She stroked its fur and chatted with us about missing her animals. They lived out of state with her parents while she attended college.
A light, tendril of artistry entered the café next. Calling himself Flannel, and wearing red plaid pants and low, button-covered hat, this young man might be taken for a musician in some circles for his long locks and sprite-like appearance. When he spoke, I found him to be enlightened beyond his years. An illustrator, protector, and lover of animals, he illuminated the room.
It turned out that both of our cohorts in the business of cat cuddling attend Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). At fifty-something, I oft forget the bright wash of twenty, when life stretches in front of you like an endless prairie to be inhaled and explored at a gallop. I also forget (and part of my healing journey is to remember) that there are still so many creative, humble, gentle conversations to be had with the generations of now.
At the Savannah Film Festival this year, I brushed sleeves with these young people, intoxicated by their sparkle. At the cat café, I was privy to the depth of the light they encompass. They are a generation of twenty-somethings not content to follow old rules or expectations. They are forging paths of love, planning escapes, and walking toward a light some of us older folks have allowed to dim.
Perhaps, healing this old soul is best accomplished by seeking the youthful light of younger souls.
Animal lovers are earth’s meek, yet mighty warriors and I already adored them before we visited the café. However, a love of animals is not the only reason to visit the Purrvana Café and Cat Lounge.
In our fair city, the café attracts young art students and the lessons they can teach those of us who have lived long (and perhaps lost touch with our spiritual gifts) are worth far more than the five-dollar cost of admission.
P.S. The croissants are warm, buttery bliss.
Blessings for cat cuddles and renewal,