NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By ALMA J. BUELVA
YOU can't rush perfection just as you cannot hurry love. These two truisms explain the repeated delays in the opening of Velvet Friends Cat Cafe as the owners strove to take care of the smallest details so that even if the cafe of their dreams is not the first, it certainly will be the finest.
Days before its official opening, people curiously stopped by and peered into the cafe, hoping to get a glimpse of the cats. Word quickly spread about the arrival of 14 magnificently handsome cats that include a Puspin (Pusang Pinoy) in black and white tuxedo markings, housed in an upcoming cat cafe on the second floor of Blue Bay Walk in Pasay City.
As last-minute finishing touches were applied at a feverish pace for Velvet Friends Cat Cafe's opening, the cats handled themselves beautifully, quickly settling into their cat haven.
The haven is a 40-square-meter cozy zone furnished with all the kitty comforts, including cat towers and condos, water fountains, food bowls, scratching posts, lofts and walkways, hidden loos and their own grooming room.
The cat haven looks out into a huge park that provides a gorgeous outdoor backdrop day and night for the cats.
The entire 106-square-meter place is designed with a soft shabby chic feel that is evident in the veranda style cafe section, complete with trellis and customized metal chairs with cushioned seats wrapped in cat prints. It is a polished yet relaxed ambiance, perfect for sipping coffee while enjoying a different kind of view – a room full of cats.
Velvet Friends Cat Cafe's proprietor, Chito Aclon, told MetroPets that with their remarkable lineup of cats and actual store already in place, they have secured the necessary government permits, including a certification from the Bureau of Animal Industry to operate what is essentially an animal facility. As required by BAI, the cafe has appointed an official veterinarian to be part of its team, he said.
To enjoy the company of Velvet Friends' resident cats, one must pay an admission fee of P190 for children below 10 years old and senior citizens, P240 for students and P290 for regular customers. That rate is good for an hour inside the cat haven.
Guests are required to leave an ID and sign a waiver before they can enter the cat haven. The cafe employs cat attendants who would orient guests about rules to follow inside the cat area. They will also be around to assist guests with other information they need to know, especially on how to handle cats.
Customers can use the lockers to safely stow their personal belongings. They may also bring along their own cats that have proof of vaccination, and house them in the cafe's cat hotel.
The cat haven can accommodate up to 16 people at a time, but Aclon said they would try to reduce the number if possible to keep the cats from being stressed.
Unlike other cat cafes in the city, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe will not use an online reservation system, which means walk-in customers are welcome all the time.
The cafe will follow the normal mall hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. However, they will temporarily close from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily to give the cats some quiet time and tidy up the place.
Velvet Friends Cat Cafe takes pride in having collected a number of commissioned cat art works, books on cats as well as cat-inspired items from abroad to fill up its upcoming shop.
Royal Canin is the official provider of dry food for Aclon's cats. The company is expected to hold occasional educational programs at the cafe to raise awareness about cats' health and wellness.
Kittens, if there are any, will have their own protected area inside the haven and will be available for viewing only.
By thoroughly planning and providing the facilities that would make the cats' stay and the customers' visit to its cat cafe more comfortable and enjoyable, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe managed to raise the bar of quality for this new business niche. They have pulled out all the stops and clearly didn't just rustle up a few chairs and tables and brought a clowder in a room and called it a day.
They have yet to face the greatest test: real customer feedback. But judging by how people outside were craning their necks to get a glimpse of the beguiling creatures inside, the velvety cats have this cafe's fate in their paws.
* One stormy afternoon at Taiwan's Houtong Cat Village