By ALMA J. BUELVA
IF Puss in Boots were to open a cat cafe, where do you think it would be?
Well, a bootstrapping cat would probably open one in Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines where he can have his favorite leather footwear made to boot (pun intended).
Like taking a page from Puss in Boots' book, a new cat cafe in Marikina opened about a month ago and named itself Cats & Crumbs. Located at the 2/F Terraza Phase 2 C&B Circle Mall, Liwasang Kalayaan Street, Marikina Heights, this latest cat cafe in Metro Manila made room for 10 rescued puspins (Pusang Pinoy) from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
Cats & Crumbs is a halfway home for Miraz, Jadis, Drinian, Rina, Aya, Florita, Venti, Piper, Yuni and Chanyeol. Since arriving at Cats & Crumbs from the PAWS shelter, the 10 cats went straight to work-- which means sleeping, eating, playing and relaxing all the time. If they are up to it, they may engage with the visiting humans who pay P199 for an hour of purrfect joy.
All 10 cats have been fixed (spayed/neutered) and are up for adoption. They are clean, healthy and with sweet disposition. As you enter their special room, some of them will quickly fuss over you while others will remain as cool as cucumbers just waiting to be petted.
Here are the 10 cats in their Instagram-worthy moments.
Swannie Lim and Joyce Abesames of Cats & Crumbs said they are proud to partner with PAWS and to be the first to open a cat cafe in Marikina. They said they really wanted to help raise the public's appreciation for the underrated but brilliant puspins.
“Puspin is a breed. They are beautiful!,” exclaimed Swannie. “I'm glad that a cat cafe for puspins is feasible,” she added.
Focusing on adoptable puspins was first done by Cat Cafe Manila which partnered with CARA Welfare Philippines, followed by the short-lived Uchi No Neko – Cat House Cafe which had puspins from individual rescuers and organizations like the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART). Other cat cafes in the city showcase imported cat breeds—from the common to the exotic.
A visit to any cat cafe also becomes a unique experience because of the thoughtful interior designs. An overstated cat theme is to be expected and welcomed, but those that also provide enough comfort for the cats and patrons alike always get our vote. Cats & Crumbs is not ostentatiously decorated, in fact it's rather sparse, which is okay. We'd rather have comfortable seating areas both in the cafe side and in the cat area side. It has its own toilet and mall parking is available. If you are not familiar with the area, Waze can take you there. Cats & Crumbs' place is bright, clean and roomy enough, but at 50 square meters or so for the entire restaurant, they've decided to limit the number of visitors to the cat area to 10 humans at a time.
Although cats make this place go round, getting a quick bite before or after playing with the cats never hurt anyone. Cats & Crumbs offers quick-to-prepare snacks and light dishes as part of the cover charge. A glass wall separates the dining area from the cat area so guests can have pasta or panini and still see a true feline reality show.
Cats and Crumbs is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is currently running its very own pet cafe inside the TriNoma Mall in Quezon City which proves to be a big hit among mall goers.
The pop-up PAWS pet cafe will be there only until Oct. 30. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 2pm to 6pm, The PAWS shelter features native cats (puspins) every Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while the rest of the week are for dogs (aspins). The featured dogs and cats may vary from day to day.
For a minimum of P150 food (or pet food from Purina) purchase, guests can enter the pet cafe and bond with the animals. Visitors can tell PAWS staff what food they wish to order from the restaurants around. Once inside the pet cafe, they can hang out with the animals and expect their food to be available in 20 minutes.
The PAWS Pet Cafe is at the 3rd level of TriNoma mall (near Powerbooks) and guests can stay as long as they want. Floor pillows are all over the place to make people comfortable as they play with the animals.
Guests can also participate in an Instagram contest by taking photos of the PAWS pet cafe animals and sharing it in Instagram with the tags @ILOveTriNoma and #PurinaPAWSCafe2016. Most likes at the end of each week of October will win a prize from Purina.
PAWS is also taking advantage of the opportunity presented by its pop-up cafe to raise cash or in kind donations for its shelter program.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
A month after opening a branch in SM North EDSA in Quezon City, Hello Kitty Cafe is set to quickly follow it up with more branches around the metro.
Another of this Sanrio-themed cafe is expected to open this September in UP Town Center in Katipunan Ave., Quezon City. A branch in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig is also in the pipeline.
The Hello Kitty Cafe is operated by Sanrio itself. Like most pop-up restaurants, it is not a big place with only a handful of tables and chairs for dine-in guests. But what it lacks in space it makes up for in ambiance. There's no mistaking you are inside the world of Hello Kitty as most items are pink and white and Hello Kitty is everywhere from the cups and pitchers to the actual food.
This place is ideal for those who like Sanrio characters and for ailurophiles who like Hello Kitty.
If you want to order take-away, you will still get the Sanrio experience as they pack everything nicely, complete with Hello Kitty stickers and ribbons.
But the big surprise are the pastries which, despite being heavy on food color, actually tasted really good. For us the donuts, particularly the chocolate flavored Badtz-Maru, are even better than some sugar bombs we find in popular donut places.
Hello Kitty Cafe thankfully didn't price their food and drinks outrageously expensive. For example, a box of three donuts and two cute cupcakes cost P550. That is not cheap but we reason that it is to be expected if one wants to eat food with the face of the world's most recognizable cat character: Hello Kitty.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
A kawaii inspired cat shelter is raring to open soon to give people a happier way to experience cat adoption.
Animal shelters usually look dull and dreary but Tea Pawty, a brainchild of Razel Ann Pabalan and Justine Chantelle Abad, will be a happy place full of kawaii items and "cute" vibes.
Their original plan was to open a cat café with rescued cats for adoption, but that would be chasing their dream in reverse. Because their foremost goal is to help cats in need, the ladies tweaked their plan and are now looking forward to open a cat shelter with café on the side!
In addition, the two designers (Razel is an interior designer while Justine is a fashion designer) wish to bring the kawaii lifestyle to their cat shelter by inviting other local kawaii artists to sell their handmade cat products at Tea Pawty.
“Tea Pawty is going to be a shelter than a cat cafe. We will cater to rescue cats and visitors can adopt them and support our operation by buying kawaii items consigned to us,” said Razel.
“One of our goals is to help small local kawaii artists showcase their works especially those who have no means to do it alone. Partner artists will donate 30 percent of their sale to Tea Pawty,” added Razel.
To get the “pawty” started, the ladies have populated Tea Pawty's range of products with their own special creations, plus items from their initial partner artists as well as those they buy from third parties.
Justine runs Dorotee Sweetlips which makes Lolita-inspired dresses, hats and other fashion items. She also creates a special line of cat clothes for Tea Pawty.
Razel creates whimsical and kawaii cold porcelain clay accessories under her brand, Spring Marionette. She said she also plans to create items like cat bookends and cat condos.
“The shelter should be self-sustaining because it's hard to rely on donations only. That is why we have to sell items, preferably local kawaii-themed handmade goods. By doing that, we can also help artists like us to sell their creations,” said Justine.
At present, Tea Pawty uses its Facebook page to market its products which are sold at very friendly prices. They accept made-to-order items which would take at least additional two days processing. Items coming from Razel's end in Laguna require an additional shipping fee of P80 to Metro Manila and P90 to provincial areas. If the order will be fulfilled by Justin who is based in Manila, the shipping fee is only P50. Tea Pawty accepts payments via Bank of Philippine Islands and LBC.
Tea Pawty is active in Etsy, an e-commerce website mostly focused on handmade or vintage items. Razel said they have had local buyers as well as customers from the US who bought Tea Pawty items.
Meanwhile, the two ladies have been helping stray cats find forever homes while saving up to build their cat shelter since 2014. Razel said they have raised enough to rent a space and open Tea Pawty, most likely in Pasay City where it will be closer for both of them.
Later, TeaPawty also plans to hold cat-related workshops to raise funds for their future resident cats. They said they want to tap more artists from the local kawaii and cosplay communities and to participate in more conventions and expos to increase Tea Pawty's circle of friends and supporters.
THE adopted cats from Cat Cafe Manila met once again over the weekend for their first “catlumni” homecoming for Christmas.
To date, the all-rescue, all-Puspin cat cafe has rehomed four of its cats, namely: Shelly, Bicco, Oreo and Ling-ling. Only Shelly was absent for the small gathering at the cafe, which was also attended by the cats' adoptive parents and representatives from CARA Welfare Philippines.
Denis Ty of Cat Cafe Manila thanked everyone who attended and happily hosted the unique reunion, which allowed everyone to share stories about the new furry members of their families.
The adopted cats were a little aloof again at first, but started to come around before the party was over.
Currently, Cat Cafe Manila features 14 Puspin cats from CARA. It is part of their “catvocacy” to find a forever loving home for some of their cats to make room for other cats at the cafe.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
BENGAL Brew is opening its doors on August 8. The fourth cat cafe in Quezon City and the sixth in Metro Manila, it is owned by Don Michael Perez, a television and film writer and director.
From the pictures shared on their Facebook page, Bengal Brew looks like a very enticing place for both cats and humans. The interior has elements of a tropical rainforest that try to simulate as much as possible the natural habitat of leopards in the wild. Bengal Brew boasts of being the first cat cafe in the world to exclusively feature bengal cats.
Bengal Brew is located at Manhattan Parkview, Manhattan Garden City, Araneta Center, Cubao and will feature Perez's own Bengal cats.
Bengal Brew is still on soft opening, but the smell of coffee and the call of the wild should quickly bring ailurophiles to its door.
To know more about Bengal Brew or to make a reservation after August 8, please call: 0917 577 5264.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE third cat cafe to open in Quezon City features mostly Persian cats. Curiously enough, we were told that Gilmore Cat Cafe is owned by a Persian who is showcasing her own cats to ride the new feline led bandwagon sweeping the metro.
Gilmore Cat Cafe opened its doors in April. To discover what it has to offer compared to other cat cafes in the city required a proper visit. We started by dropping by at its virtual home (Facebook page) and we were astounded that it had accumulated over 20,000 Likes in Facebook in so little time. Like cats, this piqued our curiosity so we decided to find our way to its physical store via the provided map. This was when the first alarm bell rang.
Gilmore Cat Cafe is located in #6 Xavier Hills Condominium, Granada St., Quezon City. However, the map in its Facebook page will take you to a different Granada Street, still in Quezon City, but in Novaliches!
Scrolling down their Facebook page revealed an accurate sketch of their location and phoning them saved us from a wild goose chase. Once in Gilmore, spotting them was easy thanks to their big sign. They encourage guests to make reservations but they also welcome walk-ins. It's good that they inform customers in advance that parking is available only along the street, but knowing this doesn't make parking any easier.
We arrived at a quiet cafe near the middle of their second shift. There were no other customers at that time and the store seemed dark. There were three people behind the counter, but only one managed to say something intelligible – a female staff who mechanically delivered a spiel about the admission charge (P300 for two hours), cat cafe policies (sanitize, no flash photography, no disturbing sleeping cats, etc.) and showed us a limited selection of unappealing pastries for the day. Half of the cover charge is consumable, but coffee was not available yet, she said.
Gilmore Cat Cafe is a two-storey affair: cafe on the ground floor and cats' pad on the second. One must wear the provided fabric slippers with cat prints before going up the pink-painted stairs that lead to the cats.
To be perfectly honest, we didn't exactly like some of the things we saw the moment we reached the top of the stairs. Strewn all over the floor were thin rugs and standard-size throw pillows, some looking old and worn out. Unattractive curtains randomly hung also helped make this two-month-old cat cafe to look old.
There are cat condos, cat nooks, towers and beds that have been arranged mostly against the wall to give 10 cats and a maximum of 12 people more room. However, having litter boxes near the cats' food and water bowls and where people sit around doesn't seem sanitary.
But the most off-putting thing was the sight of two beautiful male cats caged separately because they are prone to fighting. Under staff supervision, any of the two are allowed to have the run of the place and to mingle with guests one at a time.
Gilmore Cat Cafe had at least 10 cats when we visited, mostly Persian cats but they also have a Russian Blue, a Siamese and a Napoleon. Four of the cats are male and the alpha among them was a ginger Persian named Garfield. He and all of Gilmore's cats look beautiful, clean and have really soft fur coats. They are also generally passive, but the younger ones come alive immediately at the slightest hint of play.
We were told that none of the cats have been fixed, so mating and territorial issues are bound to occur. In fact, a white Persian cat is said to be pregnant and slept throughout our afternoon visit. We were also told that the cafe had a Puspin that now stays at home because Garfield got it pregnant.
But nothing prepared us from accidentally discovering a recently born kitten in one of the cat condos. It was when we were momentarily left alone with the cats that we heard a faint meow. A quick search led us to a black Persian cat and her baby from Cloud, one of the cats in the cage. The mother cat didn't seem that upset that we discovered her baby, although it's a fact that nursing queens prefer utmost privacy, something a cafe setting cannot give.
Based on information from its Facebook page, Gilmore Cat Cafe is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and runs four shifts, each lasting two hours. The hourly breaks in the schedule are supposed to give the staff time to clean up the place for the next shift. The cats' area is not dirty to the naked eye, but the topsy-turvy look and the rough finish on some of the cat furniture can definitely be improved.
Gilmore Cat Cafe is preparing for its grand opening, which they say will happen soon. Before then, we hope this cat cafe can improve on its weaknesses, starting by removing the misleading Google map on its Facebook page. Ideally, all cat cafes should have their own restrooms for their customers who stay with them for at least an hour. As it is, guests of Gilmore Cat Cafe must walk out and go to the shawarma store next door (by the same owner) if they need to use the bathroom.
Having a little sundry store in the cafe for cat novelties is nice, but serving better food and drinks is more important. But even more crucial is having employees who are smart and presentable.
A decent cat cafe that ticks all the right boxes for its cats and customers would be worth a visit, but those who can push the envelope by showing concern for cats and customers alike and giving thoughtful attention to details would earn frequent visits.