NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
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
* One stormy afternoon at Taiwan's Houtong Cat Village