Cat Cafés are becoming more and more popular, purrsonally I love them, not only are they a great quiet place for a cup of coffee… they’re an invaluable way to help local shelters get cats adopted!
Cat Cafés take the overflow of animals from local shelters and help socialize the cats and match them up with potential adopters, it’s important to note that these are also adult cats that have more difficulty getting adopted (most people go for the kittens) and also cats that don’t do well in a shelter environment. So for me I’d like to see more and more cat cafés pop up everywhere it’s a win, win situation!
I recently became aware of Cat Café Studio in India and the pawsome work they do to help community cats, it seems that their mission is much more of an uphill battle. I asked Mihir Bhatt Operations Head at Cat Café Studio to tell their story…
The story of Cat Café Studio – India’s first cat café
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
India is famous around the world for a variety of things. Today, we wish to talk about the unfortunate state of stray animals in this country. The way things stand at present, if you are an animal lover here, apart from dealing with and taking care of dogs and cats in need, you’ll also be dealing with your own compassion fatigue and a host of other social problems associated with taking care of strays.
From being treated as a ‘menace’ to being harassed by your neighbours, you are going to have to deal with it all, while persevering to hold on to your passion and help the ones in need. All this while cruelty against animals is on the rise. There are laws in place in the Indian constitution that encourages people to be compassionate and caring towards all animals but in reality, it’s failing the animals and all of us.
We are a bunch of creators (filmmakers, photographers, designers, etc.) and nerds who are running An Independent Creative Agency called Zcyphher in the city of Mumbai with a penchant for cats! Years ago, we decided to start doing something to solve the problem of welfare of stray animals
But, we were already facing some crucial challenges:
– How do you wake up an entire nation to the exponentially deteriorating state of stray cats?
– How do you make them look in the direction of a dying stray on the streets or at least prevent them from going out of their way to harm the helpless creature?
– How do you even begin to start a project of this caliber with a vision which needs convincing the masses when you are faced with such impossible odds?
These questions kept us awake and anxious until finally we decided to do take a step in the right direction. We needed something revolutionary and authentic to make this work while always focussing on the animals first.
Cat Café Studio (CCS) is India’s first cat café and our mission is simple – Rescue, Care, Love, Adopt.
It is our humble attempt to popularise India’s stray cats while creating a safe, homely environment for them to grow up in. Visitors can meet, play, and socialise with cats here any day of the week without any hourly charges or entry fees. We don’t keep any restriction or charges on the time a person wishes to spend with our felines here and have got over 300 cats adopted so far. The core idea at CCS is to show people what great pets cats actually are and get more and more people to open up to them.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
We started with kitten steps back in 2010 and strived to do better every day. We converted a part of our Agency office to gradually start building this space. We had no name back then or an identity. We just brought in every stray kitten/cat from the streets that we came across to the studio. We cared for them, loved them and gave them a well deserved environment and saw magic unfold in front of our eyes. These cats grew in full glory and charm. We learnt everything that needed to be learnt whenever it was required to raise a kitten, care for a wounded cat, love them enough so that they come out of their trauma, make them comfortable to a human touch which most of them never experienced before and many, many more valuable lessons and experiences. Every successful rescue gave us the encouragement to continue and every cat we got adopted reminded us how working for animals can be rewarding in ways you cannot even begin to imagine if you are not into animal welfare work.
As the population of the felines grew in our studio, we started approaching friends and family to come forward and adopt. We learnt countless lessons in the adoption zone. How first timers look at cats, how they need the right push and just the right guidance to bring a pair of adopted cats home and make them a part of their family. Some adoptions failed and we made it through those harsh times as well. We started hosting regular events here in a way to attract a larger audience which in turn helped us get more cats adopted. Gradually we started inviting our artist friends to come over to the studio on weekends and play music around cats, sing songs, recite poems and the space started building itself into a community of animals lovers and independent artists. Soon it became a hot spot for people who heard about our existence. We served the visitors coffee and tea for free. We loved people coming to our studio and playing and interacting with our cats. Every day more and more life was added to our furry little home.
THE BIRTH OF SOMETHING NEW
In 2015, we invested in the brand building segment of our plan and started a café. Initially with just coffee and tea then adding home baked cakes, cookies and muffins to the menu. We actively promoted our existence within the city with the aim to invite more and more people to come visit the cats and spend as much time as they wish with them. We needed regular and more adoptions to happen in order to sustain this initiative and keep rescuing cats. We conducted Open Mics, Art Exhibitions, Flea Markets, Christmas Day, Children’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day weekends and various other events to promote a feline and art culture within the animal lover community of Mumbai.
We needed an identity that resonated with who we are and what we do. That’s how the name Cat Café Studio (CCS) came into existence.
WHERE WE STAND NOW
As of December 2016, we have got covered by most major media outlets in India. We were termed as the first cat café of India, rightfully so. Our adoption rate fluctuated depending upon the word of mouth and the results that were achieving which put us in a constant pressure to do better, and we did. More artists have come together in our same old studio space and contributed in countless ways to raise funds for spaying drives around the city. Ideas poured in from every direction and countless unnamed heroes have helped us reach where we are today. Visitors who had visited cat cafés in other countries raved about the honest work we were doing and how their experience here was much more engaging and unique in comparison.
Some even tried and started building similar places in other cities in India as word continued to spread. A movement had started and a revolution was in the making.
But this is just a start, these numbers need to grow and what we have done needs to be done on a much larger scale to make a lasting difference.
THE KICKSTARTER CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
Right now, we are running our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in order to acquire much needed funds to set up a fully functioning cat café and art studio in order to popularise cats and change a nationwide perception about stray cats.
You can read about our campaign in detail here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/746989186/cat-cafe-studio-indias-first-cat-cafe
We are hoping to reach out to as many cat lovers like you from around the world to come forward and help us reach our funding target so as to build India’s first cat café and be a part of the CCS story. With every adoption, we are successfully changing the attitude and mindset of people in India and we wish to continue doing this and do it much better!
Cat Café Studio in India is not just any other cat café. It is our way of popularising our strays with a hope to find all of them a kind and loving forever home to get adopted into. In a country where majority of the pets are breeds which are bought, all we need is a right atmosphere to position our gorgeous strays which will encourage more people to open up and also opt for adoption of pets. While challenging age old perceptions, our primary job is, and always will be to rescue cats and bring them to Cat Café Studio, the cats will take over after that; we take one step and they take ten.
Change is coming, a meow and a cup of coffee at a time.. 🙂