By ALMA J. BUELVA
IF Puss in Boots were to open a cat cafe, where do you think it would be?
Well, a bootstrapping cat would probably open one in Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines where he can have his favorite leather footwear made to boot (pun intended).
Like taking a page from Puss in Boots' book, a new cat cafe in Marikina opened about a month ago and named itself Cats & Crumbs. Located at the 2/F Terraza Phase 2 C&B Circle Mall, Liwasang Kalayaan Street, Marikina Heights, this latest cat cafe in Metro Manila made room for 10 rescued puspins (Pusang Pinoy) from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
Cats & Crumbs is a halfway home for Miraz, Jadis, Drinian, Rina, Aya, Florita, Venti, Piper, Yuni and Chanyeol. Since arriving at Cats & Crumbs from the PAWS shelter, the 10 cats went straight to work-- which means sleeping, eating, playing and relaxing all the time. If they are up to it, they may engage with the visiting humans who pay P199 for an hour of purrfect joy.
All 10 cats have been fixed (spayed/neutered) and are up for adoption. They are clean, healthy and with sweet disposition. As you enter their special room, some of them will quickly fuss over you while others will remain as cool as cucumbers just waiting to be petted.
Here are the 10 cats in their Instagram-worthy moments.
Swannie Lim and Joyce Abesames of Cats & Crumbs said they are proud to partner with PAWS and to be the first to open a cat cafe in Marikina. They said they really wanted to help raise the public's appreciation for the underrated but brilliant puspins.
“Puspin is a breed. They are beautiful!,” exclaimed Swannie. “I'm glad that a cat cafe for puspins is feasible,” she added.
Focusing on adoptable puspins was first done by Cat Cafe Manila which partnered with CARA Welfare Philippines, followed by the short-lived Uchi No Neko – Cat House Cafe which had puspins from individual rescuers and organizations like the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART). Other cat cafes in the city showcase imported cat breeds—from the common to the exotic.
A visit to any cat cafe also becomes a unique experience because of the thoughtful interior designs. An overstated cat theme is to be expected and welcomed, but those that also provide enough comfort for the cats and patrons alike always get our vote. Cats & Crumbs is not ostentatiously decorated, in fact it's rather sparse, which is okay. We'd rather have comfortable seating areas both in the cafe side and in the cat area side. It has its own toilet and mall parking is available. If you are not familiar with the area, Waze can take you there. Cats & Crumbs' place is bright, clean and roomy enough, but at 50 square meters or so for the entire restaurant, they've decided to limit the number of visitors to the cat area to 10 humans at a time.
Although cats make this place go round, getting a quick bite before or after playing with the cats never hurt anyone. Cats & Crumbs offers quick-to-prepare snacks and light dishes as part of the cover charge. A glass wall separates the dining area from the cat area so guests can have pasta or panini and still see a true feline reality show.
Cats and Crumbs is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
DOG lovers are in for a wintry treat at the new Wolf & Bear Dog Cafe which features a log cabin where canine, caffeine and even a little booze can be enjoyed in the company of “snowdogs”.
Wolf & Bear Dog Cafe, by the same owner of Bengal Brew Cat Cafe, officially opened last Thursday (Nov. 10) in Manhattan Parkview in Cubao, Quezon City. It is unique in the way the interiors evoke images of snow-capped mountain with wolfish and bearish dogs prowling below the log cabin.
The 120sqm space is roomy enough to house 10 to 12 big dogs assigned to one compartment each, a living room area where small dogs entertain guests, and the log cabin and spirit bar upstairs where the medium-size dogs sleep, eat and play.
Proprietor Don Michael Perez told MetroPets that he got the idea for his dog cafe's name after overhearing two strangers' spirited discussion about his white Alaskan malamutes, Sari and Ghost. Ghost particularly resembled a polar bear when it was younger, he said, and the strangers were arguing whether they're seeing a wolf or a bear.
At the new dog cafe, Sari and Ghost are joined by Siberian Huskies and Akita Inu. Perez named some of the big dogs after the direwolves of the Starks from the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, so expect to meet Lady, Summer and Grey Wind as well.
Wolf & Bear dog cafe has its own entrance, but one can also use the adjoining door from Bengal Brew. In a small enclosed area between the two cafes was where we met Winter, a docile Newfoundland, stationed there with one staff to let people know that they are about to enter dogs' territory.
Children below 12 years old are not allowed in the snowdogs area. Guests are always accompanied by trained staff, and two visitors can sit and mingle with a dog in its compartment as long as they want, unless there's a queue of people that also want some downtime with the big furry dogs.
The big dogs were having quite a slumber party when we visited and were not to be disturbed. The management also put up a special sign in the alpha dog's station to inform people that the leader of the pack must be approached with caution.
At the log cabin, highly spirited pugs, Jack Russells, Italian Greyhound, Shih Tzus and poodles kept the crowd busy. The cabin area is where people can have food and drinks and, perhaps, cocktails. Wolf & Bear dog cafe has a liquor license, Perez said.
The living room section below is homey and decked with stuffed toys. One can almost imagine a fireplace there with fire crackling to make it toasty enough (air-conditioning for the dog cafe is supposed to be colder than usual) for guests and the small and teacup dogs around.
If you are planning to visit this latest pet-themed cafe, the schedules and rates are as follows:
* Weekdays 11a.m. to 11p.m.
* Weekends 12noon to midnight
* P199 for an hour (weekday rate for the dog OR cat cafe) with one drink
* P299 for an hour (weekday rate for BOTH cat and dog cafe ) with one drink
* P399 for two hours (weekday rate for BOTH dog and cat cafe) with food and drink.
Both the Bengal Brew Cat Cafe and the Wolf and Bear Dog Cafe can also be booked for private events. The two cafes combined can accommodate up to 70 people.
AS early as 5 a.m. every Saturday, a team of animal welfare volunteers visits the Sarhento Mariano public cemetery in Pasay City. Their mission: bring hope and better life to unfortunate dogs and cats who made the graveyard their home.
Ashley Fruno who formed Pasay Pups about 10 months ago to improve the health of dogs and cats who live among informal settlers in the cemetery and nearby areas is heartened to see big improvements in the animals they've helped so far. Assisted by veterinary professionals who offer their services and time and donors who provide help in kind, Pasay Pups is able to conduct regular free spay/neuter operations and other kinds of treatments for pets from poor families.
Treating animals in the area suffering from worms infestation and mange is also one of Pasay Pups' objectives.
“Many of the animals there were underweight as a result of severe parasite infections. We've been visiting the cemetery weekly to treat animals for mange, tick and worm infestations,” says Ashley.
At any one time, the group could be treating more than a dozen dogs and cats for sarcoptic mange. It is a painful and extremely itchy skin disease that causes the dogs to scratch until their skin breaks and bleeds. As their “patients” are always moving from one place to another, Pasay Pups people always bring with them anti-mange topical medication and oral anti-parasitic and antibiotics. Ashley said in their group's Facebook page that a two-month treatment especially for severe cases could cost about $20 per dog.
Pasay Pups provide free vaccinations against rabies and other diseases like distemper provided that the pet owners consent to having their animals desexed in the future.
“These immunizations save lives, and allow people to interact with their animals without the fear of rabies,” said Ashley.
When they are not providing medical care for animals, the Pasay Pups team are building sturdy houses for chained dogs that are usually left exposed to the elements night and day.
Ashey and her team also offer their time to walk dogs who are always kept tied in front of their owners' houses.
To continue with their mission, Pasay Pups asks for donations that can be sent via Paypal.
AT Cartimar, a known enclave of pet shops located in Pasay City, one must prepare to part with his hard earned money in exchange for a puppy or a kitten priced willy-nilly by jaded vendors out to make a quick buck.
We set foot once again in this puppy mills territory to document the pet shops' seemingly random pricing that can baffle and shock the naive.
The prices of dogs at Cartimar vary from store to store and they are usually negotiable. Other details such as the dog's color, size and age can also affect the final price.
There are also cats (mostly Persian) and other animals being sold at Cartimar.
Hamsters are being sold P100 a pair for the small breed and P100 each for the big variety.
Ordinary rabbits are priced P450 a pair, while dwarf and lion head rabbits cost P900 a pair.
Also for sale that day was a young pot-bellied pig. The black beauty has a P6,000 tag price, but the vendor was willing to chop off P500 to get rid of him. --- AJB
The following prices were obtained from interviews with shop owners on June 26, 2015:
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.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
GRIN like a Cheshire cat, Cat Cafe Manila is now open!
After months of careful planning and thoughtful work, the people behind this second of its kind cat cafe in Metro Manila have built a beautiful shop for the comfort and enjoyment of their resident cats and guests alike.
The 36-sqm cat-themed coffee shop features a well-designed haven and playground for its first batch of cats – all of which are rescued domestic cats or Puspin (Pusang Pinoy) from CARA Welfare Philippines.
“Having Puspins at home and then meeting them in a coffee shop setting is different especially in terms of ambience...Our cats are also well-behaved and trained not to go to the counter and break things,” he added.
As cozy and pretty as it is, Cat Cafe Manila is still in its soft opening phase. But its cats – Bicco, Mama Cat, Oreo, Trigger, LingLing, Shairah, Chaka, Monching, and Sasha – have happily settled in and are ready to meet new friends.
Owners Anna Calvo and Denis Ty have made a conscious decision to first support the local cat community, especially those that were once strays, as part of their “catvocacy”.
“Our priority is to promote animal welfare, cat equality and breed equality,” said Denis during a first exclusive interview with MetroPets. “We are open to having other breeds of cats in the future but, for now, our focus is featuring the rescue cats that can be put up for adoption,” he added.
Denis is positive that an all-Puspin cat cafe can attract people to visit because the “Puspins are also pretty and lovable,” he said.
Cat Cafe Manila is at the second floor of a commercial building at 189 Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village in Quezon City. Denis said after considering other locations, they decided to put up shop in the area which is popular among the young, hip and adventurous crowd who love to eat. The general vibe of the neighborhood fits Cat Cafe Manila's desire to be part of a big community receptive to animal welfare events and causes.
The cafe is open from 12:00 noon to 9:00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. It has an occupancy limit of 15 persons per hour, and each guest has to pay the P200 admission fee. “Half of the amount will go to our cats for their food, litter and medical expenses, while the other P100 guests can use to partly pay for drinks, food or goods,” explained Denis.
Patrons are encouraged to visit the cafe's website to make reservations. Denis said they immediately sold out their tickets during their soft opening dates. Guests should expect to sign a waiver form and must follow the cafe's set of 10 house rules designed for the protection of both cats and humans.
A veterinarian from CARA is scheduled to check on the cats once a month. As an added security, the cafe has installed a Closed Circuit TV so they could keep an eye on the cats all the time.
For now, Cat Cafe Manila has one full-time barista, an all-around staff and two “cat ambassadors” who will be on hand to assist customers and ensure the safety of cats, so everybody will have a good experience. As it happens, the cat ambassadors' names are Katrina and Kathrina, which follow the cafe's cat theme.
Aside from the endearing Puspins, the cafe's thoughtful interior design, carried out with the cats in mind, is also an attraction in itself. The centerpiece is a wall made of wooden pallets that holds movable cat furniture from Kittytektura and serves as cat ladder, too.
They also have customized cat furniture such as small houses, a connecting cat bridge that runs across the ceiling, and a cat wheel that actually moves to provide the cats some entertainment and exercise. They also accessorized the place with cat-inspired items from coffee cups to cabinet and door knobs.
Eventually, the white walls and glass windows will feature more cat art, Denis said. They also plan to build their cats a protected outdoor space at the back of the shop, overlooking the side street, so they are not always confined inside.
The corner shop is full of items that cat lovers will want to buy. Denis said they sourced a good number of their cat merchandise from abroad.
Lest we forget that Cat Cafe Manila is a real coffee shop, Denis proudly announced that they will serve civet coffee, also known as Kopi Luwak or Kape Alamid, one of the most exotic and expensive coffees in the world. It will complement Cat Cafe Manila's good selection of cakes, cookies and hot and cold drinks like their yummy Speculoos coffee.
“We are very excited and hopeful. We just want everything to be perfect,” said Denis as he played with some cats while the other cats slept. He said he was not into cats before, but now he has completely been transformed into a cat lover.
By Alma J. Buelva
IT might as well be the Year of the Cat given the overwhelming excitement around new cat cafes in the country.
Those that have opened shops already are enjoying first-mover advantage but, as the saying goes, pioneers are people with arrows on their backs. As Cat Cafe Philippines in Cebu and Miao Cat Cafe in Quezon City soon found out, with great reviews come a few stinging rebukes that teach them hard lessons and aggravate their growth pains.
With two other similar establishments, Cat Cafe Manila and Velvet Friends Cat Cafe, about to open soon, being a cat lover in this country has never been so trendy.
Here's a quick update on how cats are turning Manila's coffee scene upside down:
The sisters who own the place seem up to their necks trying to accommodate reservations while making sure their cats – the stars of the show – are always okay.
With patrons coming all the way from the provinces, the lack of parking, an adequate sign and ample shop space have become a concern. The owners promise to do something about the last two, but parking will remain tricky, unfortunately.
Nevertheless, Miao Cat Cafe's resident cats have proven they have a lot of pull, enough to bring in celebrity Anne Curtis who paid a visit! With almost 10,000 Likes on Facebook and a TV exposure in the bag, Miao Cat Cafe can only expect the influx of more customers who are more interested with cats than coffee.
CAT CAFE PHILIPPINES
Officially the first cat cafe in the country, Cat Cafe Philippines in Guadalupe, Cebu City runs a booming business thanks to its clowder of Persian and American Shorthair cats.
MIAO CAT CAFE
Barely two months old and Miao Cat Cafe has already put a modest building at No. 7 Congressional Ave. in Quezon City near Mindanao Avenue on the map as droves of cat lovers jam into its cafe seven days a week.
It opened Jan. 18 this year and has since expanded with the opening of its extension called The Cat Lounge very recently. Cat Cafe Philippines also announced last month that it would now operate seven days a week.
Based on most social media comments, cat lovers in the south appreciate the novelty coffee place with some rave reviews for the cats and the food. There were unhappy customers along the way, but the general vibe has been positive.
VELVET FRIENDS CAT CAFE
After a long search for its ideal home, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe is now in its final leg of development and will occupy a 106-square meter unit at Bluebay Walk Metropark in Macapagal Avenue, Pasay City.
The interior is being designed professionally and will follow a French Chic motif. The much-anticipated cat cafe which will feature a wide variety of cat breeds has also settled on its official slogan: Where Friends Gather. Aside from its handsome cats, the shop will feature cat-themed products.
CAT CAFE MANILA
This April, Cat Cafe Manila will finally open its doors in 189 Maginhawa Street, Teacher's Village, Quezon City.
It will feature rescue cats from animal welfare group CARA Philippines. The Cat Cafe team recently had an informative session with CARA personnel about the cats they would be bringing in. In the meantime, Cat Cafe Manila has released its new and official logo inspired by a cat named Fifi who was rescued by one of its team members.
Coffee, tea and energy drinks are bad for cats. Intake of caffeine can cause cats to suffer from restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations and muscle tremors. In addition, dairy products such as those added to coffee or tea are equally bad for cats as they are lactose intolerant. When ingested by cats, dairy products can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Next time you find yourself in a cat cafe, make sure none of your caffeine-laced drinks ever touch cats' tiny lips and paws!