Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (Published in SunStar Davao on June 10, 2018)
I was once a cat lover. Those were awkward pre-teen years of bringing home a stray cat which found a home inside my closet, and gave birth to two kittens. Several cats later, my allergologist gave me the bad news. I was allergic to cats, and they were deemed hazardous to my health. I switched to dogs, despite my asthma.
Fast forward to the present– I visited Purrbox Café thrice this month for good reasons. First, it was my daughter’s classmate’s birthday, and parents watched amusingly as our kids happily romped around petting the cats (and risked being scratched).
On my second visit, I brought two cat ladies for some Zen relaxation away from stressful office work: my editor Stella Estremera (check their articles), known for bringing home stray cats (and naming them strangely). The other was my former colleague in a TV station, Ida Damo, who just lost her 6-year old pet Budo.
The next day, I was bringing the millennial bloggers/vloggers, a noisier bunch that I had to separate from my calmer colleagues.
Arthur ‘Uloy’ Ong, Jr. accommodated us patiently on behalf of his partners, as he explained the fondness for cats. His business partner Erwin Lee Tan (fashion designer of Kasuotan shop just beside the café) has been buying pure breed cats (mostly from Manila and abroad) and wanted to open a cat gallery to showcase the beautiful felines. The other partner, Keseree Ng, was more interested in a café. This resulted into a merging of ideas and a cat café called Purrbox Cafe, Supplies, & Accessories Co.
“The business was inspired by our visits to different pet cafes in Asia. If you observe our interiors, it is minimalist and mostly accented by light colored woods inspired by Japanese and Korean interiors,” said Uloy.
Purrbox opened in May 2017 and they just celebrated their first year anniversary. Hesitant on how the market will receive this first of a kind café in the city, along with the tight, small space which limits their chances to offer more variety, the partners came up with a fresh and delicious menu for customers to keep coming back. Indeed the Bolognese, Mushroom pastas and sandwiches, flavored lattes and milk teas are best sellers, along with the cakes, waffles, nachos, coffee, fresh fruit blends and more.
Purrbox was awarded as the best Pet Cafe for 2017 from several award giving bodies. Uloy believes the approval and recommendation of customers was another top recognition for them.
“Right now, we are truly humbled and honored to be asked if we offer franchising or next expansion. We do have plans in mind in the future. We are planning to be the ultimate go-to place for all the cat lovers here in Davao and eventually throughout Mindanao,” he said.
Purrbox not only aims to promote and widen the knowledge of people about cats, but to educate non-pet owners that there are more to cats than just catching rats. The business also aims to provide quality products and beneficial food supplements for these pets.
“The common advice entrepreneurs can give is to make your customers happy. But for concept cafes like ours, it is to also to make the welfare of your cats or dogs or whatever animal it may be, your priority. Make sure that they get the care they deserve. We want to promote cat awareness so that we can enjoy the company of cats like how the other countries are enjoying,” Uloy explained.
Enjoying the company of 26 pure breed cats was what I actually did as I took time in taking portraits and getting to know each cat with the Japanese names (guess who is the diva and pregnant right now). That was the last count. Erwin still dreams of getting an expensive Savannah or the huge Maine Coon to add in the future. Kudos to the friendly and watchful staff as well.
For now, the furry kingdom in the upper floor (one order per person gives you access to paradise meow) is occupied with the cuteness overload of Bengals, Siamese, Rug Hugger Munchkin, Ragdolls, Exotic Shorthairs, British Shorthair, Exotic Longhairs, Scottish Fold and two gorgeous gentle Sphinxes. These are the real scene stealers.
You can check both Facebook and Instagram at @PurrBoxCafe.
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This article was also published here.