Nine Lives Cat Cafe offers stress relief for students

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Nine Lives Cat Cafe, located just off of Shelby Street and Orange Street, is a spot for any cat-loving Greyhounds to work on assignments, reduce stress or adopt a new feline companion. 

The cafe is colorfully filled with cat-themed decor and displays paintings for sale made by local artists. The menu offers gluten-free and vegan options to support customers with dietary restrictions. Psychology major and senior at UIndy Haley Hammonds visits Nine Lives Cat Cafe (NLCC) at least once a month and describes the atmosphere at NLCC as warm, welcoming, homey and cozy.  

“Because it’s a cat cafe, they have a really nice dining area where you can order drinks and sit down and there’s a bar area where you can actually watch the cats while you drink,” Hammond said. 

In addition to watching the cats while you enjoy a coffee and pastry, NLCC also offers the opportunity to enter into the cat room and visit with the many free-roaming cats and kittens. 

“You’re actually allowed to order food and drink to be delivered to you when you’re in the cat area,” Hammond said. “Which is always really fun because the cats are all over you at that point.” 

NLCC gives students the opportunity to destress by visiting and playing with the many cats that they foster in the cat lounge, according to the owner of Nine Lives Cat Cafe and founder of IndyAdopts! Kelley Niiyama.

 “Even if people don’t recognize it,” Hammonds said. “I think if you just spent some time with a kitten, it just helps you de-stress and it helps you take a break from everything that’s going on in your life, and you can just sit there and have some cuddles with a cat.” 

Niiyama emphasizes these mental health benefits as well. 

“We did a survey recently and there were a number of people who said they came here because they wanted to destress with cats or reduce stress,” Niiyama said. “I think it’s a really important thing.” 

Niiyama said that if she ever feels stressed or overwhelmed while accomplishing her work at the cafe, she will find herself visiting with the cats to offer herself a mental and physical break. 

“In the working world it’s really important if you wear a lot of hats to have these bubbles that you go in and out of, and you need to take a physical break during that,” Niiyama said.

NLCC is not only a place for study and relaxation, it also offers adoption services. If a student and their mental health care providers decide that an emotional support animal (ESA) is the best option for their mental health, Nine Lives Cat Cafe’s adoption services would be a great place to search for their comfort companion, according to Niiyama.

“We’re a good place for [adopting] ESA, and our shelters know how to deal with that,” Niiyama said. 

Niiyama said that while she is proud of her work with Nine Lives Cat Cafe, she takes the most pride in helping the cats find their forever home. 

“When an adoption happens, you see these people’s faces light up,” Niiyama said.  “They’re getting this cat, and it’s the most amazing and wonderful thing.”

Hammonds said that what sets NLCC apart from other adoption centers is the fact that a potential adopter can get to know and interact with the cats before choosing which one they would like to adopt. 

“It’s really nice to have that experience, because if you go to your local pet center, you just see these cats that are stuck in some kind of crate, and you don’t really get to have that experience with them,” Hammonds said.

To encourage UIndy students to try out the experience for themselves, NLCC is offering UIndy students 10% off drinks with proof of their student ID.

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