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
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.