NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
WHILE Manila eagerly awaits the opening of its first cat cafe, MetroPets decided to visit a pioneer establishment in Singapore called Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa. It was a short but sweet visit that introduced us to the 13 resident cats, the staff and the proprietress Sue lynn Tan.
Established in December 2013, Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa was inspired by the cat cafes in Japan, ergo its name which means “cat garden” in Japanese. Located in the touristy Boat Quay, the Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa sits on the second floor of a conservation shophouse with a nice view of the Singapore River.
You know you are stepping in "cat territory" the moment you take the stairs leading to the cat cafe.
Inside, guests and cats can peacefully co-exist as long as the former follow some house rules and pay a cat “cuddle charge” of S$12 per hour per person on top of the price of food and beverage. Guests can also order a slice of cake and a cup of coffee while admiring the cats. There are also some carefully selected cat-inspired merchandise so visitors can "take home a cat".
But first customers must remove their shoes and wash their hands before they could be allowed in the cat area. Sue has printed a handbook of rules to guide patrons on how they should behave around the cats.
In an interview with MetroPets, Sue said they have made a conscious effort to only have adopted cats which came from private foster pet parents in Singapore. By doing so, her cat cafe hopes to encourage people to adopt cats, especially non-pedigreed cats that can be just as beautiful and affectionate as their pedigreed counterparts.
The cats at Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa consist of American Shorthair cross, Chinchilla Persian cross, Maine Coon & Ragdoll cross, Siamese cross, and Oriental cats. But Sue said she doesn't plan on adding more cats as 13 cats already require a lot of work.
Sue said her cat cafe had a very busy first two months, but she quickly admitted that the novelty had died down a bit. Competition also soon came, with two other cat cafes opening in Singapore within a year since Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa opened its doors.
Nevertheless, the cats of Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa continue to draw a steady stream of clientele – from the diehard cat lovers to the plain curious.
Mr. White, Little Miss Muffet and company live in the cafe. All cats are in excellent condition. Their fur are soft to the touch and they are all well-behaved.
Those who want more time with the cats need to pay an additional S$5 for another 30 minutes. Who could blame you? Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa, as its name implies, is a place where one can cultivate a growing love for felines.
So, who wants cat therapy with their cup of coffee?
THE DOGS are out inside the Mega Trade Halls of SM Mega Mall where they congregate for the 2015 Philippine Circuit Dog Show! The best of the bests are on the floor, competing for major titles that are being awarded to the leaders of the pack. The annual four-day show that began last Jan. 10 attracted a group of elite international and local dog experts, top pet food and supplies vendors and die-hard dog lovers.
Here are some photos taken from the show floor:
Exhibitors also made good use of the event by showcasing some of their latest products. Few of the interesting ones we spotted include elk antlers' as dog chews, Dyson vacuum cleaners for dogs,
The list of winners will be in a different post. In the meantime, we leave you with this wonderful photo taken on the second dog of the Philippine Circuit Dog Show 2015.
A BOOK called “God's Broker” published in 1984 has an account of Pope John Paul II talking about a sad dream he had when he was still a Cardinal. The dream was about homeless cats and it happened in 1969 on the eve of his first trip to New York City.
The book, which culled about 200 hours of interviews with the Pope by the author, Anton Gronowicz, recounted how the Pope looked so sad after sharing his dream about the cats. It was the basis of a 2001 article of J.R. Hyland (The Pope of the Homeless Cats: John Paul II had a dream) which talked and analyzed in more detail how the sufferings and rejections endured by the cats in the dream made a profound impact on the Pope, who maintained a vivid memory of it though it brought him sadness even years after he had experienced dealing with far harder realities involving true human sufferings.
In the dream, he, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, was trudging through snow as he followed a brown mother cat and her six brown-and-white kittens who were searching for for food and shelter. The setting appeared to be streets of New York City covered in snow.
Hyland's article, using text from the “God's Broker”, detailed the Pope's narration of his dream as follows:
“The mother cat looked back from time to time to see if her babies were there, but her main concern was to reach the entrance door. I presumed she was trying to find warmth for herself and her children, but as soon as she reached the door, a man in a well-pressed uniform, jumped at her with a broom and chased them away. I followed this procession and prepared to deliver a speech to the doorman. I opened my mouth and tried to complain, 'Where is your proverbial American generosity? Where is your American good heart and fair play? Let them in. Let them in!!
"I tried to speak, but the words would not come out. Maybe I was afraid of the doorman with the broom. I started searching my cassock pockets for a piece of bread, found some crumbs and put them on my palms, calling: 'Kitty, kitty, kitty.' But the words would not come from my supposedly intelligent mouth. Instead, the wind blew the crumbs from my palm and I said, 'what can I do? I can't speak to the cats. I can't speak to the doorman. But there are many hungry birds. They might pick up the crumbs.'
"Again, I walked after the cats, now with a pain in my chest, feeling tremendous cold. On the left I saw a church building and thought, 'There we will find help.' I heard singing and again, the idea occurred to me that it must be a Catholic church. The music grew louder, as though trying to convince God that they were praying to Him.
“The mother cat jumped in front of me and climbed the stairs, followed by her kittens. I raised my head and saw a tall Jesuit priest chasing the cats off the steps. But as I was about to shout at the Jesuit 'I am a cardinal!' and give an order to accept the cats, the mother cat and her offspring ran behind the church, because from there came the appetizing aroma of food. Probably there was a kitchen there. But a second Jesuit appeared at the kitchen door and scared the cats away. They returned to the avenue and started walking north.
"They walked on the same side of the avenue as the Jesuit church and I followed. Then they reached an imposing red brick church. An Anglican bishop appeared and said to the cats, 'My dear animal children, please go immediately to the animal shelter. There is food for you there. We Anglican clergy donate lots of money to the animal shelter, every year, at Christmas time.'
"The mother cat and her kittens didn't even meow. They knew the authoritative voice of the Anglican bishop. They walked uptown and gradually the luxurious buildings disappeared, together with the doormen, and we saw drab dilapidated apartments.
"As they walked and the buildings grew shabbier and dirty, a door was opened, not by a doorman but by an old wrinkled woman in a cotton dress. [She saw the cats] and shouted 'Oh, little mother,' and when she opened her mouth I saw she had few teeth. She gently ushered the mother cat and kittens inside, who jumped happily about because the warmth of the house embraced them."
Hyland said that years later after having that dream, the well-loved Pope made a pilgrimage to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. “In the Message of Reconciliation he delivered there, the Pontiff spoke of the Saint's love for animal, as well as human, beings. And he likened that inclusive love to an anticipation of the Peaceable Kingdom, envisioned by the Prophet Isaiah; a world in which all God's creatures will live in peace with each other,” wrote Hyland.
Hyland added that “The Pope also said that the "solicitous care, not only towards men, but also towards animals and nature in general" which St. Francis demonstrated, is "a faithful echo of the love with which God in the beginning pronounced his 'fiat' which brought them into existence." And, the Pope added, "we, too, are called to a similar attitude."
By sharing his dream about the homeless cats and preaching how humans should also extend solicitous care towards animals, the Pope, Hyland said, is being true to the Gospel message in which Jesus also gave witness to the need for the solicitous care of all beings: "I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me." (Matthew 25:45 TEV)
By Alma J. Buelva
IF everything goes as planned, Manila will have its first cat cafe in April or May 2015 to follow the paw prints of the successful and popular cat cafes in different parts of the world.
To be called Velvet Friends Cat Cafe, it promises to house alluring specimens of purebred cats such as British Shorthair, Exotic Shorthair, Scottish Fold/Straight, Cornish Rex, Maine Coon, Siberian Forest, Ragdoll, American Curl, Kurilian Bobtail, Oriental Long Hair, Somalis and our very own native cats fondly called “Puspins” (Pusang Pinoy) by local cat lovers.
Cat fancier Chito Aclon is the man behind this ambitious project, which should see fruition early 2015.
In an exclusive interview with MetroPets, Aclon said they are considering three locations for his cat cafe: Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Mall of Asia and Trinoma. He noted that the strongest choice is BGC.
“We approached Eastwood (in Libis, Quezon City) before and they are excited but we need a good crowd so we are considering uptown Bonifacio Global City, which is owned by MegaWorld as well.
“The cat cafe I am planning to open would host an array of wonderful purebred and local cats. I am in the middle of completing my cats and then would proceed with the concept shop and leasing work. Hopefully, more Filipinos would be fascinated with cats once we open what we hope to be Manila's first cat cafe,” said Aclon.
Though a self-professed dog person, Aclon started falling for cats, so to speak, when he spotted several beautiful purebred cats in pet shops in Macau. Since then, he would find himself traveling a great deal to see more cats, including those participating in cat shows abroad. Aclon, who currently works in Singapore, also visits the cat cafes in the state-island but noted that most only have Ragdolls and Ragamuffins to offer. For his cat cafe, Aclon definitely wants to showcase more.
Aside from his growing love for cats, Aclon told MetroPets that he is pushing his Velvet Friends Cat Cafe to create awareness about and fondness towards cats among Filipinos who have not had the wonderful experience of seeing and interacting with purebred cats that are expensive and not always available.
“Many Filipinos don't appreciate cats because they have not experienced them personally, especially the purebreds. Sadly, many Filipinos only know two special breeds: Siamese and Persian. Our Cafe would open doors for them to know other kinds of cats. They would have a different perception of felines just like me and, I think, it would make more Filipinos love cats. They do not have to own a purebred to experience one. They can just drop by at the cafe and experience them,” Aclon said.
Aclon has invested a lot of his time, effort and money to find the cats for his cafe. He has scoured pet shops and online stores to find his dream cats and has contacted breeders from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States and Europe.
“It is not always that easy to talk to breeders who are very protective of their cats, and whose prices are not always friendly, but I don't mind since I 'd love to have them,” said Aclon.
As of the moment, he had sourced pairs of most of the above-mentioned breeds, which he said he would be delighted to share with all cafe guests.
“Our cats mostly come in pairs, meaning there would be kittens! We will try our best to have 20 or more cats available daily at the cafe, but would rotate them every couple of weeks. People may develop a strong bond with a particular cat but they would be encouraged to interact with the other felines when the cat they're looking for is not in. We want to create excitement by not showing the same cats all the time,” he said.
Guests of Velvet Friends Cat Cafe will be able to enjoy pastries and drinks aside from having access to “The Haven,” which is the special section where the cats and humans can interact. There will be rules, however, that visitors must read and follow when they enter the Haven. The rules would cover things like sanitizing, proper handling and liabilities for negligent handling, among others. Wearing of socks is a must for those who wish to get inside the Haven.
In addition, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe is preparing a special menu of premium canned cat food from New Zealand, Japan and the US for visiting cats that tagged along with their owners. “Only the finest for them,” added Aclon.
Staff of Velvet Friends Cat Cafe would be assigned at the counter and they would be expected to welcome and attend to the customers and look after the cats.
“Looking after the cats require much work,” said Aclon.
As his cattery grows, the “cat gentleman” admits having a favorite. “I love the American Curl most of all! But now, I think I love them all. I am very much getting more fond of the British Shorthair and will try to have as many colors as possible,” he said.
Photos from Chito Aclon
* Claws out! Cat lovers fight over this Starbucks mug