Say hello to kitty at cat museum

The Muses section of Lion City Kitty – a multi-concept social enterprise set up by former Gold 90.5FM DJ Jessica Seet (above) – is where cats from the Cat Welfare Society have a temporary home until they are adopted. -- PHOTO: TED CHEN FOR THE ST
The Muses section of Lion City Kitty – a multi-concept social enterprise set up by former Gold 90.5FM DJ Jessica Seet (above) – is where cats from the Cat Welfare Society have a temporary home until they are adopted. -- PHOTO: TED CHEN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The Muses section (left) of Lion City Kitty – a multi-concept social enterprise set up by former Gold 90.5FM DJ Jessica Seet – is where cats from the Cat Welfare Society have a temporary home until they are adopted. -- PHOTO: TED CHEN FOR THE STR
The Muses section (left) of Lion City Kitty – a multi-concept social enterprise set up by former Gold 90.5FM DJ Jessica Seet – is where cats from the Cat Welfare Society have a temporary home until they are adopted. -- PHOTO: TED CHEN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Learn more about cats at Lion City Kitty museum-playground in Purvis Street, get to know some cats and maybe even adopt one

A cat museum gallery-playground is purring your way.

Lion City Kitty - The Cat Museum, Muses & Mansion will feature all things cats over three floors of a Purvis Street shophouse. Eighteen actual felines will also be in residence. It officially opens on Jan 9, but is offering public previews this and next weekend.

The multi-concept social enterprise is the brainchild of former Gold 90.5FM DJ Jessica Seet.

"There is a lack of exposure to animals here in Singapore. I have met many Singaporeans who have never touched a cat," says Ms Seet, 48, who runs her own voice-coaching company, Art Of Voice.

"So with Lion City Kitty, we hope to change the community's mindset towards cats and animals, and see the value of allowing animals into one's life."

Visitors to the 2,600 sq ft Lion City Kitty can find out about the origin of cats in Singapore, view cat-themed artwork, interact with the cats-in-residence and even adopt one.

Nine cats - including Ms Seet's 11-year-old first pet cat, Brad - occupy the top level. Dubbed The Mansion, the cosy area comes complete with scratching posts, a cat bridge and an array of toys - a playground for the animals and those who want to stroke and nuzzle them.

The Mansion cats used to be strays and were rescued by Ms Seet and her employees. They were kept in the Art Of Voice office, located on the second level of the same shophouse, before moving to their new digs.

Ms Seet, who is funding the museum, pays a landlord rental of $10,000 a month for Lion City Kitty's premises.

On the second floor is a section called The Muses, where nine other cats from the Cat Welfare Society have a temporary abode. The society's volunteers care for these cats, which will roam the cage-less environment until they are adopted.

"Our aim is to socialise the cats in an ideal environment and get them ready to join a family," says Ms Seet.

Cat Welfare Society chief executive Joanne Ng says she was thrilled when Ms Seet approached her about the partnership.

"Most of the time, during adoption drives, the cats are kept in cages so potential adopters have limited interaction with them," says Ms Ng.

"In Lion City Kitty, similar to a comfy home, visitors can see the true nature of the cats and spend time with them to see if they are a good match."

Unlike other cat cafes that have recently sprung up in Singapore, there are no food and drinks for sale at Lion City Kitty - only nibbles for the cats.

However, besides lounging around with feline friends, visitors can also imbibe nuggets of information about the creatures.

Primarily on the first two levels, walls are lined with displays about the history of cats in Singapore, as well as in parts of the world such as Egypt and China.

Around 100 cat- themed photographs, paintings, sculptures and other arts and crafts from local and international artists are also on display. Among the local artists are Paul Koh from CatmaSutra, as well as Ng Ling Tze and Terence Koh from SlothStudio.

Eighty per cent of the works are for sale, with prices ranging from $20 to $5,000.

Ms Seet also plans to invite local artists to take inspiration from and create art on the premises.

The opening hours have been deliberately kept short. Lion City Kitty will open for two hours - noon to 2pm - from Monday to Thursday and from 2 to 9pm from Friday to Sunday. This is to prevent stressing out or overstimulating the cats, says Ms Seet.

"For the health of the cats, since they are solitary creatures by nature, we chose not to open for long hours every day. This was never set up to be a business," she says.

And, unlike most cat cafes in Singapore, which allow only those aged above seven to enter, Lion City Kitty welcomes all ages.

"We want kids to learn how to interact with animals here," says Ms Seet. "There will be staff around to guide them on how to play with the kitties too, so why not let them in?"

Quoting French author Colette, she adds: "Time spent with a cat is never wasted."

gurveenk@sph.com.sg