Interview with Selena Hubbard, Founder of Nine Lives Cat Cafe in Fountain Square

We recently sat down with Selena Hubbard over coffee at Calvin Fletcher’s to learn more about Nine Lives Cat Cafe, her soon-to-be-open cat cafe in Fountain Square. Yes, you heard correctly; Selena and her father are opening up a cat cafe in the Fountain Square neighborhood and we couldn’t be more excited to experience what it has to offer cat lovers and pet adoption advocates in Indy! The cafe is set to open late summer 2016 at 1315 Shelby Street (Suite A), next to several neighborhood hot spots.

Tell us how you came up with the idea of Nine Lives Cafe?

Selena: The idea is actually not a new one! In 1998 the first cat café was opened in Taiwan. In the following years, the concept became wildly popular all over Asia and started moving to western countries. The first cat café in the US opened in 2014, but since then, many more have popped up and we thought it was about time that Indianapolis had one of its own!

Have you always had a passion for cats? Why are cats so special to you?

Selena: I’ve loved cats my whole life. I had cat-themed birthday parties as a kid, cat posters all over my room, and was a cat for Halloween several times. My love for cats (and all other animals) has continued into adulthood. I really like cats because I’ve lived with them my whole life. I love that they can be just as sweet and silly as they can be mysterious.

Where will the cats come from and how will you chose which ones will be Nine Lives Cafe?

Selena: The cats will be coming from local shelters. We are basically acting as an off-site free roaming cat room for the shelters, or a foster family. They will be screened for personality that would suit our high-traffic area, and they will all be healthy, friendly, social cats that are ready to be adopted.

How often will you bring new cats in to Nine Lives?

Selena: We will bring in new cats as the current ones become adopted, so we hope to never run out of any cats!

What will be the process for adopting from Nine Lives Cafe?

Selena: When someone finds a cat they love, they can talk to us and we will help them through the online adoption process through the shelter. Their information will be processed and they may be further interviewed by the shelter. Then, on a set day, they can pick up their cats. Scheduling a pickup day will help us have time to bring in and acclimate more cats to fill the adopted ones’ spots.

What food and drink offerings will you have available at Nine Lives? Will you have any cat-themed items?

Selena: We will have typical coffee shop food and drinks, but we will throw in a few seasonal menu items and drinks that are cat-themed. We are planning on having cat-shaped cookies and possibly more! We’d also love to show off cute cat latte art on people’s drinks.

Tell us a little more about the interior of the cafe.

Selena: There will be two sides to the café, the cat side, and the café side. There will be a wall that divides the two sides. To stay health code compliant, the cats will never leave the “cat lounge” and cannot come in contact with any food and drink preparation areas. People can choose to bring their food or drinks into the cat area, or they can eat and drink in the café and then go visit the cats.

What can one expect to experience on a visit to Nine Lives Cafe?

Selena: We want to give people a fun and completely enjoyable experience at the café. To keep traffic steady and the cats’ stress levels down, we will be taking reservations to get into the cat lounge, at least in the beginning. When people get into the cat lounge, they can relax, read a book, or do work or homework. We’ll also have plenty of toys available for people to play with the cats.

When visiting a cat café out of state, I overheard one of their customers saying, “I had a really rough day at work, and this is exactly what I needed right now.” We’d like to provide a similar atmosphere of cheer, relaxation, and comfort for our customers at Nine Lives as well, to brighten any bad day!

Where do you see Nine Lives Cafe in five years?

Selena: We hope that Nine Lives will be part of something that is more than just a fad. We’d love to still see high adoption rates from the café even in five years.

When not working on your new cat cafe, where can we find you in Indy?

Selena: Oh gosh, where to start? Since I live in Fountain Square myself, I’m most often found visiting the businesses in the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place area. I like to go on runs around the neighborhood and on the Cultural Trail. You might spot me having brunch at Milktooth, getting something sweet from Nicey Treat, picking up some quick ingredients from Wildwood Market, or grabbing a bite for dinner or a drink at one of the many awesome bars and restaurants in the area. Actually, I can think of at least 10-15 restaurants all around the city that I personally find quite delightful, so I couldn’t possibly name them all here. I also love to shop for vintage and antique items all around Indianapolis and one of my favorite places to do so is Midland Arts and Antiques – you could seriously spend a whole day in there! Oh, and since Nine Lives will be next door to BodySpace Yoga, you can bet I’ll be in there quite a bit after we’re open!