FURRY FELLOWS. A boy plays with newfound friends at the Cats and Crumbs café in Marikina City on Wednesday (Feb. 19, 2020). Aside from playing with “puspins” (Pusang Pinoy), the café supports the 'Adopt, Don't shop' advocacy as part of efforts to protect and care for stray cats. (Photo by Sean Yauder, OJT)

MANILA — More than serving beverages and light snacks, cafés have become a part of people's daily lives. Whether it is for doing business and working in an out-of-office setting or just spending chill time with friends, the atmosphere of these places offers a temporary refuge from the stressful daily grind.

With the fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, cafés have transformed to cater to a specific market. While many cafés are run solely for profit, the one in Marikina City exists for a meaningful cause.

Cats and Crumbs, the city's first cat café, is truly exceptional as its furry fellows are “puspins” (short for pusang Pinoy or Pinoy cat), all from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

What makes this café extraordinary is that the business started for the love of food and pets and the cats are up for adoption.

After gaining experience from working for a well-known local food company, owner Joyce Abesames opened the cat café in 2016.

The café’s cats were rescued, which means each has a story.

(Photo by Sean Yauder, OJT)

One of the advocacies of the café is to change the perception of the public towards “puspins”, which are as lovable as cats with breed.

“Usually when they think puspins, ang dami-dami naman diyan (there are a lot around). It is like 'Why would we want to play with them?' Iba pa rin yung may (It is still different if we play with cats with) breed. For me, that means you can take care of puspins and really make them beautiful. Wala sa breed yon (It has nothing to do with the breed). It’s you as a pet parent kung paano mo aalagaan talaga yung pets mo (on how you will take care of your pets),” Abesames said in an interview Wednesday.

She also urged “fur parents” to practice the “Adopt, don’t shop” campaign as PAWS has more than 300 rescued animals and the number increases every day.

While eating their yummy delicacies from a variety of “pawsta” (pasta) and “pawnini” (panini sandwiches) prepared by their staff, one can see the cats through a glass window.

(Photo by Sean Yauder, OJT)

Despite the presence of furry friends, Abesames assured that cleanliness and food sanitation is still a top priority as the felines are kept off the dining area. This complies with the rules set by the Marikina Sanitation Office.

Contrary to the common perception, cats in the shop are sociable and adorable.

“People get surprised – they are sweet and clingy. I think because they were rescued, (it's like their) gratitude is more than the usual. (It seems) they were very happy when they were taken care of, especially when they were finally adopted. It is like their happiness is at a higher level so they are extra friendly,” she added.

For PHP500, interested individuals may adopt a cute cat that is fully vaccinated and neutered. The process is quick and all it takes is a visit to fill up a form and have an interview with a café staff.

(Photo by Sean Yauder, OJT)

After these procedures, a PAWS representative will do a final interview with the prospective owner and make a house visit. Once completed, one can say hello to a new furry family member.

Aside from cats, the shop promotes local products. Among their must-try drinks are the Sagada Tea and Kalinga Coffee, directly harvested from the Cordillera highlands.

A cat-inspired sticker from a local artist can be purchased as well. Proceeds will directly go their “Catvocacy Project”.

(Photo by Sean Yauder, OJT)

Every quarter, the cafe also holds a basic Filipino Sign Language Class because Marikina and neighboring Rizal province used to host a community for the deaf.

Cats and Crumbs is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday), and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Friday and Saturday). It is located on the second floor of the Terraza Phase of the C&B Mall in Marikina Heights. (With reports from Sean Yauder, OJT/PNA)