Imagine this. You are a cat enthusiast: a naive, unsuspecting fan of fluffy beauties that could step on you any time and you’d thank them. You reserve one hour at The Catcade, Chicago’s first arcade-themed cat rescue shelter and semi-lounge. Your heart is racing in your chest at the thought of time alone with more than one cat. You don’t know what to expect; hours of scrolling through official Instagram posts can only scratch (no pun intended) the surface of perfection, and you wonder if you’ll really be ready to face the reality of your dreams coming true.
You get to The Catcade, complimentary drink in hand as you brace yourself for the storm of vague meowing beyond the door leading into the main floor area. You breathe deeply, opening the door slowly so that you don’t startle the lump of a shadow already ghosting the door.
Oh my god, you whisper. Oh. My. God.
There are so many cats.
Located at 1235 West Belmont Avenue, The Catcade has been cozily settled in Lakeview since it opened on August 19, 2017. Founded by fellow cat lovers Shelly Casey and Chris Gutierrez, the mission of The Catcade is “to rescue cats from life-threatening situations such as high-kill shelters and to find friendly, quality homes for them through their adoption program.”
To visit, there is an entrance fee of $15, which goes towards getting cat supplies, saving rescues, and maintaining the shelter itself. If you decide to adopt one of their lovely feline friends during your visit, the $15 entrance fee is deducted from the adoption fee of $100. And although walk-ins are fine, it is recommended that visitors book reservations ahead of time on their website to ensure availability for unlimited head boops and personal time with each of the purring machines.
According to an infographic created by Gutierrez to showcase the year in review, 171 cats have been rescued from places such as Chicago Animal Care and Control and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) groups while 151 have been adopted —on average — every 12.2 days. Since the creation of the infographic, however, the number of adopted cats have risen to 242.
The cats are all very sweet and very willing to cuddle up with any visitor — though once you sit down, there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to get back up again. For those considering attending one of the Cat Yoga sessions every Sunday, good luck trying to perfect your warrior pose when all the sleeping felines around you are whispering do the corpse pose.
If you’re ever in need of some quiet company or some relief to your aching desire to know what it’s like to be flooded by tiny paws and swishing tails, spend an hour or two at The Catcade and relax.
(Or, at least, relax as much as you can before you begin to worry about whether or not the cats like you enough to sit on you.)