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Inside Chicago's New Arcade-Themed Cat Lounge, Opening Saturday

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 16, 2017 6:58PM

Despite its, um, long tail of drama, the arrival of Chicago's first cat cafe last month seems to have gotten plenty of feline lovers excited about similar options. If you're among them, you'll probably want to take note of The CatCade, an arcade-themed cat lounge that's set to host it's grand opening on Saturday, in Lakeview.

The CatCade (1235 W. Belmont Ave.) is a modest operation, with roughly 15 cats available for in-house cuddling, adoption or both. The 600-square-foot lounge area is open-roam, which means "all the cats are free to walk around" and pet, said Shelly Casey, one of the co-founders.

But despite its small digs, the minds behind the lounge have packed a fair amount of concept into CatCade. Co-founder Chris Gutierrez is also an amateur restorer of '80s arcade games, and he dutifully channeled that love into the lounge. Vintage, sit-down Ms. Pac Man and Galaga cabinets each house 60 free-play, old-school games, and a Defender cabinet features 100, in case you need a break from the furry ones for some, say, Burger Time. Extending the theme, there are even replica arcade cabinets that Gutierrez transformed into cat beds and cat trees.

"Mostly it's all just to provide a relaxing home environment. We want to provide a relaxing therapeutic space for cat nerds like us," said Gutierrez.

The no-kill nonprofit charges $15 for a one-hour visit with the cats. The grand opening for CatCade (feline folks do love their catty portmanteaus) is Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"We're excited to be a part of the community of helping cats," Gutierrez. "We might not be on the same level as larger shelter organizations, but we like knowing that we're attempting to make a little difference in our corner of the world. We've always been excited to help cats... and we tried to find a fun way to do that."