Cat Café Manila: The café with 9 lives
MANILA, Philippines – It’s been a little over three years since Cat Café first opened its doors. Since then, the café, which is tucked in a nondescript building along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, has become a pilgrimage site for cat lovers from all over. People come to mingle with the café cats (all of whom are up for adoption), drink coffee, eat pastries… and propose marriage?
“We’ve had proposals,” laughs Cat Café co-founder Denis Ty.
“One of our cats, I think it was Bacco, helped a guy propose. He put the engagement ring on Bacco's collar and he had Bacco walk towards the girl. And when the girl saw Bacco, she exclaimed, ‘There's a ring!’ And then he proposed.” In addition to cat-assisted courtship, Cat Café Manila has also hosted birthday parties, bridal showers, prenup photoshoots — all of which make the establishment a sort of community rec center for cat lovers.
Which made the news that they were closing all the more disheartening.
In a Facebook post last March, Cat Café Manila announced that after entertaining over 40,000 guests in 3 years and helping over 30 cats find their furever homes, they were no longer able to sustain their operations.
“We were very open to telling the public what is happening,” says Denis. “I think that's very evident in the post that we did (on social media). We announced that we were closing in June, and needed all the support that we could get, even from groups or people that would want to adopt the café.”
A month has passed since the original expiration date, and Cat Café Manila managed to keep trucking along, thanks to some last-minute assistance from a team that offered to handle the café’s marketing.
Denis and his team are going all-in on a new marketing plan, and are hoping that it gives the shop a new lease on life.
“So the bright side in this,” Denis says “is we actually have a team of passionate individuals who are willing to help in terms of marketing the café and putting up improvements. We want to revamp and overhaul the café. So we're looking into offering new food selections. There's actually a new menu that we are launching, and we're hoping that that would increase purchases.”
The café is still not out of the litter box, though. Denis mentions that the café still needs a boost in support to ensure its survival. “We're still open to investors, volunteers, or ideas.”
With its playful décor, Japanese-inspired interior, and awesome Kittytektura installations, Cat Café Manila is a cat meme come to life. But in addition to all the fun and fur, the shop also educates visitors about responsible cat parenting, including neutering and adoption.
And while other cat cafés host only purebred cats, Cat Café Manila is an equality-opportunity place. All the cats in the café come from CARA Welfare Philippines, and are available for adoption.
“The more we understood about the advocacy part, (the more we learned about) cat equality,” Denis says. “You don't really need to be anything else. All cats are supposed to be equal – and they are equal. It just really matters on how you see it.”
A corkboard in the café has photos of the dozens of cats that have found permanent homes through the work of Cat Café Manila and CARA.
On paper, it’s the humans that have adopted these cats, but the truth is probably the opposite – the cats are the ones that picked their humans. – Rappler.com