The Nine Lives of Christmas has been saved on my DVR for four years and counting. It’s the movie that started it all, my thorough enjoyment of all things Hallmark . . . and I suspect I am not alone. So how does one appropriately honor the movie that started it all? How does one live out, in real life, The Nine Lives of Christmas? Especially since I am not a cat owner (I grew up with a dog), have not attended and will never be attending veterinary school, and do not renovate houses or know any local firemen (yet).
Well you are in for a treat this month, because there will be not one, but multiple blog posts about cat adventures, culminating with an actual New York City firehouse that claims a cat as its mascot. Yup—in Real Life, not a movie, an actual firehouse contains firemen and a cat.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you’ve not yet seen The Nine Lives of Christmas, let me break it down for you. Our leading lady Marilee, played by Kimberly Sustad, is a veterinary student working her way through school at a pet store and hiding her beloved cat from her no-pet policy landlady. Zachary, played by Brandon Routh, is a fireman by day, house flipper by night, and overall bachelor at heart, who reluctantly takes in a stray cat. Their meet cute takes place in a grocery store, and before they get their happily ever after, there are mishaps and misunderstandings.
Many of Hallmark’s most beloved movies include several key ingredients, and pets are at the top of the list. Not only does the Hallmark Channel broadcast the American Rescue Dog Show as well as the Kitten-Bowl, it highlights movies where pets either have or find loving homes, and on the Hallmark Channel website you can find information about adopting a pet yourself. Click here to learn more.
So, in the spirit of The Nine Lives of Christmas and Hallmark’s love of cats, I visited the Brooklyn Cat Café for a 30-minute “snuggle session” or what I consider a meet-and-greet with adoptable cats.
The truly amazing real-life feat for me is not so much the cat interaction, but that on a random Wednesday night I left the borough of Manhattan and ventured to Brooklyn. For those outside of NYC, this is kind of a big deal. I know they look close on a map, but depending on where you are in Manhattan, it’s easier to cross state lines into New Jersey than it is to get to Brooklyn. But I did it—yay me!
In the beginning I was more skittish about this then a stereotypical cat. (And to be fair, none of these cats were skittish; they were bounding all over the place!) As someone who grew up with a dog, cat etiquette is as foreign to me as another language, so I entered the experience cautiously.
Although the café is a place of business, the cats were roaming with confidence that made it very clear I was entering into their home. Upon arriving, I quickly learned that while I could purchase a drink, I would not be permitted to leave that vestibule and enter the main area where the cats were until I finished it. That’s where the Cat Café title is a bit deceptive: No one was hanging out with their coffee and a book while cats roamed around, which is what the name implied to me. Rather, you can (1) have a drink in a small vestibule, or (2) enter into the large open living room area, sans drink, and play with cats. Those are your only options.
I wasn’t thirsty, so I waited my turn to enter the cat area behind a mother with her 2-year-old daughter. “June Bug,” as her mother called her, had blonde ringlet curls and was jumping up and down with eagerness to get inside. Then, after June Bug and her mom entered, it was my turn. A woman greeted me from behind a screen door to check me in, confirm I had signed the waiver, and give me the rundown: no picking up the cats, and the ones with red ribbons are best left alone.
Upon entering I saw cats, cats, and more cats. Cats on chairs, cats on stools, cats on sofas, cats on cushions, cats on armchairs, cats on shelves, cats on benches, cats on counters, and even cats on a bar. No drinks were served, as I mentioned, but there was a bar on display by the entrance with cats climbing all over it. The cats, all available for adoption, came in every color: black, grey, white, brown, orange, black and white, grey and white, orange and white, butterscotch, and the list goes on.
Once I got over the shock of the sheer number of cats, my eyes could adjust to the surroundings that were clustered in a variety of living room arrangements so that guests could sit while they petted and played. The cats looked comfortable, lounging on sofas and chairs like they would in any typical home, and maybe that was the point. If you are in the market to adopt a cat, maybe this makes it easier to picture the cats in your own home with you or your family.
There were toys available to play with the cats, and June Bug squealed with delight as a bunch of kittens raced from one side to another, chasing the ribbon she waved on a stick. As her mom told her their time was up, June Bug stopped to say goodbye to each kitten, climbing on chairs to reach the ones lounging along the top. As June Bug said her goodbyes, an artist was sketching the cats nearby, a couple was trying to pick out a cat to adopt, and friends were talking together while petting cats.
In Real Life I did not see any firemen (at least not this week. . .), but I can assure you, seeing the cats playing and happy, engaged in their environment, rather than caged, was certainly a lovely way to visit with them. Even though if I were to get a pet, it’d be a dog, I gained a greater appreciation for cats and really admired the creative way the Brooklyn Cat Café was helping these cats find loving homes.
Next week’s adventure is yoga with kittens, so stay tuned for the continuation of The Nine Lives of Christmas… in Real Life.