Playing politics with some very kooky cats

A CAT café with a distinctly Canberran vibe is in the pipeline for the capital, with all resident cats named after politicians and a mini Telstra Tower and Carillon for them to play on.

Sisters Carolyn and Andrea Sewell say they are hoping to open the Capital Cat Café in Braddon by September, and already have nine cats lined up.

All nine are currently taking over their home while they get to know them, and the sisters are aiming to have up to 20 cats by the time they open.

“It’s a bit crazy having all the cats at home, and we’re definitely at capacity until closer to the time,” says Carolyn.

“It’s a great way for them to get to know each other though, and for us to see how they interact. There’s a definite hierarchy with all the different personalities.”

There’s Maggie, named after the first female appointed to cabinet, Margaret Guilfoyle; Joanie, named for the first female speaker of the House of Representatives Joan Child; Vida, named after early feminist politician Vida Goldstein; Tash, named for former Australian Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja; a ginger cat called Julia (Gillard); Eddie, Australia’s first PM Edmund Barton; Quennie for former Governor-General Quentin Bryce and former PMs Harold (Holt) and (Robert) Menzies.

“We don’t have any currently serving politicians, except we wouldn’t mind maybe a Bronwyn Bishop, as she’s the longest-serving female federal parliamentarian,” says Andrea.

“We want visitors to learn something about our political history in a kooky way.

“We’re also hoping to get a Rudd or a Howard before we open, but it has to be the right cat.”

Carolyn says that all the cats have been rescued or rehomed, but none will be up for adoption, and will instead live at the café full time.

However, she says they do hope to facilitate adoptions once the café is up and running.

Carolyn says the café will have several themed rooms – a Lake Burley Griffin room, a Cabinet room and a Prime Minister’s office – where visitors can pay to hang out with the cats, and take their coffee and food in there if they wish. The front of the café will be a cat-free zone.

“We won’t be able to actually serve food in the cat rooms, but people are more than welcome to take it through – we just suggest they watch out for certain furry overeaters who may want to share!” she says.

“We love all animals but cats are so unique and they do unusual and stupid things – they climb on things they shouldn’t; they fall off things.

“Quennie and Joanie are the friendliest. Julia can be a bit unpredictable!”

The sisters say they are attempting to crowdfund the venture, following the popularity of Carolyn’s cat Zanda on social media.

“Given the support we’ve had on our Facebook page we had hoped the crowdfunding would do better, but we’re not worried, there’s still time and we’re looking at other avenues,” says Carolyn.

The Capital Cat Café Indiegogo campaign finishes on July 9.

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