I found heaven, and it is a room full of kittens — fluffy, clumsy, capering and snoozing, each one more adorable than the last.
Also: You can eat cookie dough, raw, from a jar!
“Can we live here?” I asked my husband, Steve, one recent Sunday afternoon. He didn’t answer — he was too busy dangling a toy mouse over a tiny tuxedo kitten. The kitten wiggled his butt and then leapt into the air — missing the toy and belly-flopping across Steve’s knee. At that moment, my husband looked happier than I’ve ever seen him, including at our wedding.
You, too, can experience this level of joy. The Kitten Lounge, which materialized in Georgetown earlier this month, will be open through June. Cat lovers ages 7 and up are admitted so that there are no more than 18 people inside at a time, each paying $15, $20 or $35 for 15-, 30- or 70-minute sessions.
Do yourself a favor and sign up for the longest time slot you can. When I was there, 30 minutes passed by in the blink of an eye. A woman announced it was time to say goodbye, and much pathetic wailing ensued — and not just from the children.
“Noooooo,” I cried.
“Settle down,” Steve said. “She’s not talking to us.”
We still had 40 minutes to go, so I returned to eating cookie dough and criticizing Steve’s snack choice. For some reason, he had opted for a fully cooked cookie.
“Cookie dough is the food equivalent of kittens,” I explained. “It’s the younger, better version of something that’s already pretty great.”
Since The Kitten Lounge can’t prepare food in-house for health code reasons, the process of getting snacks (which cost extra) is a little convoluted. Customers are encouraged to order food and drinks in advance on The Kitten Lounge website. Then, during your visit, Kitten Lounge employees are dispatched to the Georgetown location of The Dough Jar to retrieve your goodies.
Remembering that I was on assignment and not just there to cuddle, I tore myself away from the kittens and chatted with some other customers. One 20-ish woman told me that her boyfriend was mildly allergic to cats, but that his sniffles had just been charmed into submission by the little orange floofball currently perched on his shoulder.
“Just so you know, Noah’s already been adopted,” said a kitten manager. “But don’t worry, we are getting lots more rescue kittens soon.”
That’s because, every spring, feral cats start pumping out kittens, overwhelming animal shelters with feline fecundity. For the next few months, The Kitten Lounge will serve as an escape valve, a place where people can play with kittens or even adopt them.
“So what happens when the kittens grow up?” Steve asked. The manager said that felines who age out of The Kitten Lounge before finding a home will be placed in foster homes or graduate to Crumbs & Whiskers, a cat cafe around the corner that is under the same ownership.
“None of these kittens are in danger of being euthanized,” she assured us.
That’s one of the big differences between The Kitten Lounge and, say, the Humane Rescue Alliance on New York Avenue NE, where Steve and I adopted our two cats — an (understandably) smelly and loud place, where barking dogs turn many felines into shivering, anxious messes. Compare that to the spotless, odorless Kitten Lounge, where humans and kittens can bond on fuzzy beanbag chairs, underneath pink neon signs bearing slogans like “Meow you doin’?” and “You’ve got to be kitten me.” (Editor’s note: The Humane Rescue Alliance says it has a live-release rate of more than 90 percent.)
Heaven, it turns out, is highly Instagrammable.
Since my visit to The Kitten Lounge, I’ve been telling everyone I know to sign up for a slot before the secret gets out and only celebrities can get in — and I keep getting the same skeptical response.
“I’ve already been to the Georgetown cat cafe,” my friends say. “It was just OK.”
All respect to Crumbs & Whiskers, but The Kitten Lounge is way better. In addition to being full of playful kittens rather than sometimes standoffish adult cats, The Kitten Lounge has a better overall vibe. This is perhaps because staff at Crumbs & Whiskers are extremely strict about keeping people from waking the adult cats or touching cats that don’t approach you first, while at The Kitten Lounge, waking and picking up kittens is allowed — encouraged, even. (Cats that need a break from humans can disappear behind a silver curtain into the “kitten-only” area.)
And while I’ve found the overall cat density at Crumbs & Whiskers to be a little disappointing, The Kitten Lounge is absolutely filled with kittens — up to 25 at a time in one smallish room.
So, seriously, go visit The Kitten Lounge before Taylor Swift finds out about it and moves in.
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