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.