Ever since my kids were little, I’ve taken them to Animal Friends to see all the cats, dogs and bunnies. As a non-profit animal resource center in Pittsburgh, Animal Friends rescues and shelters homeless companion animals and tries to find them adopted homes; it also offers all kinds of community education classes and events. The thing is, though – while we could always look in the cat rooms there (which were always so cute and colorful), we could never go in because that was reserved for volunteers. But now Animal Friends has partnered with Colony Café to offer a gathering place where you don’t have to be on the outside looking in anymore – here, you get to play with the cats and snuggle with them. So from the first moment I read about Pittsburgh getting a cat café, I knew we needed to plan a family adventure to go check it out.  

Colony Cafe in Pittsburgh: wine, coffee, cats

Colony Café is located at 1125 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. You can try to park in metered street spots or one of the lots or garages nearby – we parked at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s Grant Street Transportation Center garage and it cost us $5. We walked right across the street to the café, so it was very convenient.

The café itself is on the first floor and seems like a nice place to stop in for coffee, wine or food – here’s the menu. They have free WiFi and lots of cozy spots so, even if you don’t plan to visit to the cat loft, you can just hang in the café.   

Colony Cafe Cozy Spots

Colony Cafe in Pittsburgh: cozy spots, cool art, fresh flowers and lots of natural light

But if you come for the cats, then it’s smart to book a reservation which you can do via the café website. While reservations aren’t required, the cat visits are slotted in one-hour increments and the number of people per slot is limited to 10 so that the cats don’t get overwhelmed and everyone can get some cat time. If the slot isn’t full when you visit, you can certainly join in but slots do fill up especially on the weekends. The cats nap and take a break from us humans between 2pm and 3pm each day so plan your visit around that if you go. Other things to note: kids must be 8 years or older to visit the cat loft (except for special events where younger children are welcomed) and the cost to visit with the cats for the hour slot is $8. This fee helps Colony Café cover the costs of caring for and feeding the cats – generally 10 to 12 cats live in the loft full-time until they’re adopted. Speaking of adopting – 48 cats have been adopted from Animals Friends via the Colony Café since it opened in February 2017. The process is a thorough one so don’t expect to visit the cat café and leave with a cat on the same day – Animals Friends is serious about making sure the cats are going to caring homes.  

Colony Cafe Cat Loft

Colony Cafe in Pittsburgh: “because everything is better with cats”

We arrived about 15 minutes before our slotted cat time and were happily greeted when we walked in by the barista behind the counter. He checked us in and, while we waited to head up to the cat loft, I ordered a chai tea and the kids and I read in one of the cozy spots in the café. When we went upstairs for our visit, we were greeted at the door by another staff member. She stayed in the cat loft during the entire hour to answer any questions we might have and also monitor the cat/human interactions.

The cat loft space consists of a few sitting areas where you can observe the cats, who are lounging around in various cat-friendly spots. A basket of toys is set out if you want to play with the cats – my son loved blowing the catnip-infused bubbles which the cats mostly just curiously watched. You can hold the cats and pet them or simply just sit and read and be around them. Pictures of all the cats, along with their names, are hung on the wall so you can learn more about them if you are thinking of adopting. My kids fell in love with a little kitten named Erin – she was so snuggly and they took turns sitting in a chair with her cuddled up next to them. Each cat has a different personality, some didn’t want to be held, but all that I interacted with enjoyed the attention of a nice rub on the head. The litter boxes are accessible through a little cat-sized opening in the wall and the cats can escape in there if they need some quiet time during visits. If you need a restroom during your cat loft visit, you will need to go through the human-sized door back down the steps.    

Colony Cafe Cat Snuggles

Colony Cafe in Pittsburgh: snuggles with a kitty named Erin


Colony Cafe in Pittsburgh

Colony Cat Cafe: the cats are the main attraction

We all loved our visit to the Colony Café – and I appreciated the friendly treatment we got when we were there. Also, we got an email the same day of our visit asking what we thought and if we enjoyed our time. Obviously, the staff cares about trying to make it a welcoming place for humans as well as cats.

Thanks for reading along about our Colony Café family adventure in Pittsburgh – it was just like you were there!  

Love cats? You might like my blog post about the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West.



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