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.