IN the middle of a concrete jungle that is Cubao in Quezon City now lies an oasis lorded over by 18 glorious bengal cats.
Roaming freely inside a 120 sqm cat cafe are exquisite bengals that are the main attraction of Bengal Brew. Officially the sixth cat cafe in Metro Manila, Bengal Brew is the first in the world to exclusively feature exotic bengal cats. Its themed interior, top quality facilities, and the stories behind the furniture and other items in the shop all create a fascinating atmosphere different from most cat cafes. Definitely, this one takes people closer to the wild side.
“I fell in love with the breed and started to look for other good quality bengals but I couldn't find more here, so I looked abroad,” Don told MetroPets. “When their number grew, that's when I started toying with the idea of sharing them with other people by way of a cafe.”
Aside from the magnificent bengal cats, having a spacious play area with a tropical rainforest theme, a spacious cattery at the back, a staff and cat grooming area, a decent comfort room for guests, and a comely cafe section stocked with good coffee and pastries and cakes, make Bengal Brew one of the best cat cafes around.
Located at one of the busiest commercial centers in the city, Bengal Brew at the ground floor of Manhattan Parkview, Manhattan Garden City, Araneta Center, Cubao is now accepting walk-in guests. They charge P400 for an hour stay at the cat play area, inclusive of coffee in a tall tumbler and a choice of food. Other guests may opt to simply dine outside the play area, but still enjoy a good view of the bengal cats through the glass wall.
Aside from its accessible location, Bengal Brew is hard to miss because of the huge cat logo dominating its facade. What looks like the facial features of a cat in the logo are actually the owner's initials – DMP.
Inside, Amir and 17 other bengals are ready to receive visitors from 12 noon to 8 in the evening. Be ready to search for them as they don't readily present themselves. Bengal cats are not the typical, cuddly lap cats that one would expect to find in cat cafes. The bengals are a little aloof, calculating and reserved and they prefer to stare down at humans from high up their ramp.
“Sindak (fright) is the first reaction of some. But they soon learn that bengal cats are sweet, too. I want to educate people about bengal cats. They are not small bengal tigers. They are pets, only with a wild appearance.”
Because Amir and his friends are a hardy bunch, the rules at Bengal Brew are a little more lax than others when it comes to handling the cats. A member of the staff monitors the interaction between cats and humans, but as long as the cats are not hurt or annoyed, guests can pet, carry, play and even feed them. The cover charge comes with a small quantity of raw chicken that guests can feed to the cats. This is the perfect “bait” to get the bengals out of their hiding places and get their full attention.
All these while world music plays in the background.
Guests are still required to wear slippers and sanitize before entering the play area. But once inside, they will soon find out that one of the unique things about Bengal Brew is it encourages customers to get a little exercise.
Unlike most cat cafes where people just sit around and play with the cats, here the bengals' “wild” ways make people to look up, walk around and climb up the rocky parts of an indoor pond if they want to see them closer in their "habitat".
The trunk of a fallen molave tree that stands inside the play area also satisfies the bengal cats' need for great heights. Don said getting the molave trunk required a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Behind the imposing wood is a vertical garden.
The play area can accommodate up to 24 guests at one time.
Visitors can also eat inside the play area as food and beverage are served with covers so, even when unattended, the cats can't accidentally eat, soil or spill them.
If there's a five-star rating for a cattery, Bengal Brew's probably could fit the bill. Although hidden from view, the spacious, high-ceiling area is furnished with cat amenities including an air purifier, cat lofts, cat towers/condos, a carrier for each cat and, of course, litter boxes.
Don also installed deodorizers that automatically spray every five minutes so no bad smell lingers or reaches the cafe and play areas. A staffer also stays with the cats overnight to ensure their safety.
Morning and evening the cats are fed raw chicken – not just the flesh but also the bones.
“Cats are obligate carnivores. Their teeth can handle the bones. We mix the raw chicken with taurine, iodine, vitamins E and B complex and fish oil which are all diluted in water,” said Don.
Bengal Brew is currently on soft opening and, as such, charges only P350 for an hour with food and drink. Those who wish to extend their stay at the play area will have to pay P150 or P200 with coffee.
Being from the showbiz industry, Don sees Bengal Brew as a celebrity hangout. Merchandising is in the pipeline as well as the possibility of featuring other exotic cats such as ocicat, serval and toyger in the future.
To know more about Bengal Brew or to make a reservation, please call: 0917 577 5264 or 366-8287 or watch this short video.