#speeddating | Couples get cozy courting over coffee and cats at Christchurch speed dating event

Cats will play cupid connecting couples over coffee at a quirky speed dating event in Christchurch.

Strangers will have four minutes to chat to their match while surrounded by rescue cats that live at Catnap Cafe in Sydenham.

After a year of being single, Christchurch woman Johanna Williams said it was time to get back into dating life. She thought the unusual dating event would be a fun opportunity to make friends and meet a man with a sense of humour.

“I think it’s a good way to break the ice and it’s a bit different – I’ve never seen anything like this before.”


Alyssa O’Connor and Nate Ball, who opened Catnap Cafe on Colombo St about a year ago, say they are letting their rescue cats play cupid while also fundraising for Cat Rescue Christchurch.

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It was not a pre-requisite for a potential partner to be a cat lover, she said.

“I don’t have any cats myself but my parents have a cat … that might give us something to talk about. I’m a single mum – I have a little girl – so I’m looking for someone who is interested in kids, mature and just someone to have a laugh with. If they are willing to go to a cat speed dating event they should have a good sense of humour.”

Organiser Alyssa O’Conner, who co-owns Catnap Cafe with Nate Ball, said they decided to let their rescue cats play cupid as a fundraiser for Cat Rescue Christchurch (CRC) ahead of the upcoming kitten season.


After a year of being single, Christchurch mum Johanna Williams says it’s time to start dating again. She’s signed up to a speed-dating event at Catnap Cafe in Christchurch.

The cafe, on Colombo St, opened about a year ago, and since January they started adopting out the rescue cats who lived at the cafe. 

“We have 19 at the moment. Initially we had fostered cats for CRC in our spare time and then decided we wanted to find a way to do it fulltime.”

The cats lived in a separate room from where the food and drinks are served, but people could go into the cat room, she said.

“It’s really good. We have heaps of regulars. Most people who come in are cat lovers. We just had our 40th adoption a couple of days ago.”


Catnap Cafe co-owner Nate Ball with one of the 19 rescue cats that lived at the cafe.

They were hosting the event with a team from Share My Pet – an organisation that connected pets with people. The team was currently doing a road trip around the South Island to promote pet sharing and pet friendly establishments, she said.

The speed dating event would be a fun way of making connections in the company of adoptable rescue cats, she said.

“It’s the perfect chance for singles to meet fellow cat lovers in a super chill and relaxing environment and help fundraise for a good cause at the same time.”

Spaces were already filling up in the three age categories (40-50, 30-40 and 20-30). Women had been quick to sign up, but they needed more men, she said.

Tickets are $25 per person and $10 per ticket will be donated to Cat Rescue Christchurch.

Bookings can be made for the September 21 event on the Catnap website.


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