The Company of Cats: Cat Cafe at Chinatown

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Well, you know what they say about pets! It’s a long-term commitment and while most people may crave the affection and companionship from a pet, not everyone is cut out to own or be responsible for one. Even while cats are one of the most independent domesticated animals around, they still do need tender-loving care and attention and it is sadly almost too common to hear about abandoned cats being rescued by cat welfare societies.

I was very surprised to hear about The Company of Cats, a Singapore Cat Cafe located in Chinatown, from Smith.

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‘Betcha didn’t think there would be a cat cafe in Chinatown

Unlike most other cat cafes in Singapore, the founders of The Company of Cats had initially opened it to operate as a little clubhouse of sorts for their adorable rescued feline friends. Yes, you heard me right, the key word here is rescued. Every single resident here was either previously a stray or adopted after they were found abandoned. The young but passionate bosses of The Company of Cats have created a safe environment for their these little saved ones and provided them with a place to live and play while also allowing cat lovers who may not be ready for pet ownership to enjoy hanging out and playing with these furry kitties over a cuppa and some light bites.

It seems apt that it would be Smith who introduced me to The Company of Cats. I first “met” Smith on Twitter when I was doing a shout out for advice when my colleagues and I spotted a litter of kittens lost from their mother. Smith directed me to the right places to get the advice we needed and we’ve been friends since!

If you’re wondering if The Company of Cats would make a good date idea, I’d say, go for it! That is unless the person you’re dating is allergic to cats of course. If so, then avoid at all costs. The cafe is at Mosque Street just five minutes from Chinatown MRT and very easy to locate. (You can’t possibly miss that large green and white signage with cute cat illustrations.)

The cat cafe is a fully shoes-off zone. You climb up the steps through the 6B entrance of the shophouse and immediately reach a gated area where you are provided with rubber slippers to change into or if you don’t mind, just walk around in your socks or barefoot.

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Hard to miss The Company of Cats with this illustration going on here

The small shophouse is decorated with cat themed items from Fortune Cats to tin cat food on the communal dining table just next to the counter. You order your food and drinks from the counter and then decide on one of two options regarding where you’ll be consuming them.

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Fortune kitties!

Choose between eating “outside” at the communal dining table (for people who might not want to pay a visit to the cats in the cat room because they have a fear of animals or don’t wish to eat there) or in the cat room. If you’d like to enter the cat room, there is a charge ranging between $10 – $14 for the first hour (prices vary on weekdays and weekends) and $5 per subsequent half an hour. This includes one standard beverage.

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Communal dining area for people who prefer cat-free dining

It’s a nice cosy hole-in-the-wall type space with very homemade bites, that while creatively put together, you could probably easily make at home yourself.

I understand from one of the bosses, Shuyun, that the menu is limited and there are no “full meals” available. This is partially due to how they have a very small space to work with for a kitchen and also because the cafe is a home and safe haven for the cats. The team at The Company of Cats respect and care for the resident kitty superstars very much. Their main focus is on caring for the cats instead of spending a whole day prepping and putting together complicated meals for guests. Fair enough. This is a tricky business decision and I think it takes a lot of love (and balls) for them to put the cats first and balance that with their need to drive profits and cover overheads.

Also, if you’re thinking this is a little pricey with the charges racking up every half hour after the first hour and having to pay for food as well, I’d like to point out that this cat cafe runs with a conscience and a heart. It truly places the welfare of cats first, not just their own, but also other cats (and dogs) in need. You won’t believe this, but in addition to all the awesome things they are already doing, The Company of Cats also donates a portion of it’s profits to the Animal Lovers League.  Madness. I don’t know how they make this work, but they do, and the cat cafe is celebrating it’s first year in operation next month!

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A simple menu to order from

You’ll also find a myriad of “cat wares” sold. Just opposite the counter is a display of all things kitty related that will surely have the cat lovers freaking out.

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Love cats? This is a cat’astrophe for your wallet!

Some of these products, like the lovely Handmade Cushion Cover with Cushion ($25) which features a real sweet cat multi-colour print, are little knick knacks for the home that is really hard to resist. Oh dear, how do you tighten your purse strings here?

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Like I said, a utter cat’astrophe!

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Bed time reading anybody?

While I was there, I did spend a bit of time browsing the items on sale. I found that a real tempting buy would be the set of white and grey Pusheen plushies at a steal of $55!

I also spotted some locally authored books on cats and other kitty novelty items which seemed pretty neat. I admired the displayed kitty goods for about 10 minutes before I decided it was probably time to proceed to take a look at the real ones in the “cat room”.

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Little handmade cat trinkets on sale

Before we entered the “cat room”, we were given a quick briefing on how to best handle the little aloof but lovable creatures, most of which were common sense rules. I had never owned a cat before, but it made sense to only treat the kitties like how I’d want to be treated:

  • Don’t prod or touch them when they are sound asleep – let them rest
  • Don’t carry them around or hold them up, if they come to curl up in your lap on their own accord, that’s okay
  • Feel free to play with them if they are feeling frisky, use the toys if you like, but don’t irritate them by poking them with the play things when they are not interested or responding
  • Don’t feed them any of the food meant for humans
  • Don’t fire away with flash, otherwise photography is allowed
  • Don’t scream, shout and run around as it will stress them out

For a full list of house rules, please visit their website.

Then we took off our shoes and wore little rubber slippers provided at the walkway outside the door to the “cat room”, headed to the toilet to wash our hands with soap before walking in.

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Pay up, remove your shoes and wash your hands before entering the “Cat Room”

We arrived at around 8pm and so the cats were mostly curled up sleeping with just one or two actively prancing about. Every one of the eleven residents of The Company of Cats have their own unique personalities and quirks. Getting to know these crazy critters is half the fun of spending time over at this cafe.

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Lion-maned Meringue with his piercing gaze

Some of them, like Belle, the long-haired beauty shown below, was lazing around, prowling up and down the room before resting. Her protocol was a quick walk about, trotting back to post, getting some shut eye and then a little while later, she’d wake up and do her “rounds” all over again. Little Miss Routine, this one.

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Belle is the lady boss around these parts, you can tell!

We hung around and cautiously petted them at first as they warmed up to us. The F Man more cautious than I was of course (He thinks I’m already the biggest cat in the room). I was more at ease with their nonchalant cat-titudes. Being a “cat person”, I felt right at home as they did their own thing and I just watched them, occasionally stroking one or two of them when they seemed ready for a pet.

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Elliot getting a serious case of curiosity

I loved watching them engage each other. Like with humans (ala The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills The Real Cats of Chinatown), they have got their own cliques and kitty politics. They would sometimes play fight, hiss or pounce at each other when they encountered another resident that wasn’t their favourite cat.

If you want to get yourself acquainted with the cats, you can refer to this wall for a quick introduction. They’ve got the photos and their names on them too.

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The Company of Cats introduced in photos on the wall

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Daisy (I think) grooming herself and Belle being Queen of the Scratch Post

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Lulu chilling out in a Kinder Bueno cardboard box

There’s plenty of spaces, “ledges” and little “beds” for the cats to run to for rest and relaxation. When they are active though, beware! They’ll be rushing around and jumping into shelves and sofa seats, sometimes with utter disregard for your human body. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“GET OUT OF THE WAY, HOOOOOMAAAAN!”

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Okay, we heard ya, Belle!

Anyhoo, the kitties do their thing and we could also do our thing… like stuffing our faces with yummy little snacks and light bites. Oh, and also drink coffee, which I must say is fan-freaking-tastic. Fur’real. (Pun intended.)

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Hot Cappuccino (left) and Hot Mocha (right)

On top of having fabulous and completely adorable cat latte art dusted on top of our hot cappuccino ($4.50) and hot mocha ($5), the coffee tastes great and is made with gourmet coffee beans from local roaster, Highlander Coffee. Is your date a coffee fanatic? This place is #winning and gonna score you major brownie points.

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The F Man satiated by a cutesy cuppa

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How adorbs is the latte art?

Of course the thing about cats is they are curious creatures, so I discovered that when all I did was observe them from a distance and minding my own business, they would come peeking at me and steal glances at us sipping on our coffee and munching on mouthful of toasties.

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Daisy peering over the table to check us out

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Bangers and Mash

We also shared a satisfying serving of Japanese-style Bangers and Mash ($8). Basically, that’s delicious, fluffy mashed potatoes, thick slices of chicken sausages, lots of shredded nori and drizzled with a generous amount of sesame Japanese dressing in lieu of the run-of-the-mill brown sauce. It is indeed very creatively put together though it is nothing exceptional in terms of cafe nosh. Still it is super comforting and easy enough to eat while enjoying the company of cats, like literally.

IMG_9044Toasties and Chips 

Other than the Bangers and Mash, we also tested the toasties (toasted sandwiches) which came with a paper bag full of crispy tortilla chips. There were two different variations we tried during our visit: Chicken Bak Kwa and Cheese Toastie ($6.50) and Caramelized Onion, Mustard and Cheddar Toastie ($5.50).

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The toasties are surprisingly tasty

It came in this precious lunch box, which while completely tempting to bring home, must be returned after you’re finished eating. You can keep the paper bag the tortilla chips came in though.

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Toastie time!

My favourite was the Chicken Bak Kwa and Cheese Toastie which was oozing with melted cheese and was served hot (not warm, but hot). I mean, it’s ingenious because these guys are just a stones throw away from Bee Cheng Hiang.

The other toastie, the Caramelized Onion, Mustard and Cheddar Toastie wasn’t bad and I loved the chunks of onion (oooh, caramelized onion is the love of my foodie life), but after eating something as sweet and savoury as the Chicken Bak Kwa and Cheese Toastie, I couldn’t deny that my heart was with the meatier option. I’m very carnivorous.

As I was munching on my toastie, guess who wanted to hang at the couch too?

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“My spot, now. Okay.”

Okay, I did leave my seat for a bit and was walking around when this little one decided to take my spot. It’s all yours, sweetie.

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Skippy taking a cat nap

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Sweet homely decor

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Feeling right at home

It’s very easy to feel right at home at The Company of Cats. It’s been designed to look so cosy and homely with carpets, comfy sofa seats, bean bags (not sure if for cat or tiny human) and plenty of cat literature. Well, for the less avid readers, there are also loads of cat themed photo books.

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Oh look, a book about Maru!

It’s quite uncanny that as we were reading up about Maru and browsing through the photo book, Skippy the Fatty and staff favourite (seriously, who doesn’t adore a fat cat) sauntered or rather slid his ass along the carpet. It was hilarious and I regret not taking a video.

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Fat Amy, er, I mean, Skippy

The best part of spending an afternoon or quiet evening here is that only 15 people are allowed in the “Cat Room” at a time which keep things intimate and stress-free not just for the humans, but for the little critters.

I guess, it’s so homely also because it literally is one, for the cats and the owners who are constantly taking care of them. Both founders have even decided that instead of using the attic space that they’ve taken up as an area for dining and business, they’ve converted it into a private area with litter boxes for the cats to go to when they aren’t feeling like the want any more human attention.

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Don’t miss out on dessert too. We had the Key Lime Pie which was so creamy, zesty and creamy, made using Shuyun’s own recipe!

Again, the food here is really a taste of home goodness and nothing fancy. The Key Lime Pie in a Jar tasted like what a good friend would have brought over to a potluck, made with crushed graham crackers, cream cheese, mini marshmallows and lime. One jar of this sweet treat was good enough for the two of us.

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Om nom nom!

I spent most of my time between spoonfuls of dessert chilling with the cat family, lying on the floor, discreetly (and sometimes not so discreetly) taking photos of them and their pointy ears and large round eyes. Aye, all of them are so darling even if they start off hiding and being aloof.

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Okay Elliot, we get it, you’re not special, you’re limited edition!

I noticed that around Shuyun and some regular customers, the kitties were more receptive, warm and active. I understand that it took awhile for the cats to become more comfortable with visitors, but they are a lot less wary after a year of operation. Of course, another time when the cats come out to play is when its meal time!

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Standing by… by the door

They will start to wait patiently, at first, by the closed door. They prowl about, sometimes resting, just waiting for their human servants to come by with their dishes of cat food. This is probably the best time to sit amongst them and pet them lovingly behind the ears or stroke them.

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Waiting patiently for now

As they get restless, this is when the “drama” starts unfurling. Some of the cats who can’t stand each other get a little jumpy and start pawing and meowing at each other for some reason.

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“Where’s my food?”

While no “real fighting” happens (or at least the staff will break ’em up if they do seem like on the verge of a cat fight), but you can tell they are restless and irritated and just want to be fed pronto. I really enjoyed just observing them and seeing how they acted as they sat at pin-point attention staring into the distance out of the door and windows in the direction they know food will arrive.

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Elliot beginning to get restless while waiting for meal time to arrive

If you’re looking for “action”, this is the time to be hanging out at The Company of Cats. The cats are fed thrice daily, once at opening at around 12pm, once in the late afternoon at 5pm or so and finally one more time nearer to closing hour at 9pm.

You’ll know if it’s feeding time because the hungry ones will start scampering as their teeny tiny paws pound the wooden floors in excitement and they emerge from all their hiding and sleeping spots!

While these cats are definitely attracted to food and get totally worked up about getting their meal of dry and wet cat food, guests are strictly not allowed to feed the cats any of the human food.

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The cats subscribe to the no food, no attention rule

It is just courtesy and also respect for these furry friends, and their human cafe owners, not to flout the rules. The rules are there for a reason and are mostly in place for the welfare of the cats. If you love them and adore them, please don’t feed them anything that is outside of their regular diet.

Most of the food items for human consumption are provided with covers or boxes to ensure that the cats don’t get to them when you aren’t looking. Yes, they can get greedy, jump onto tables and paw at your food, though while I was there this was not a common occurence with only one sneaky bugger attempting to get close to our food items.

Several employees are on duty and they will often come in to check on the cats and guests in between serving food and drinks. This is to ensure the kitties are kept safe and that no rules are being broken by errant guests.

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I pet a cat and I liked it, I hope my doggie don’t mind it!

Most cat cafes are pressured to put business needs first because of rising costs and high rentals, so some are open every day of the week in order to drive healthy revenue. I’m not an expert at caring for cats, but I’d imagine that having eleven independent animals under one roof would mean a need for some quiet time and also grooming or maintenance.

During my chat with Shuyun, I understand that one of the greatest challenges is keeping these felines healthy. When they fall sick, it can really costs a bomb to bring them to the vet for treatment, but it is so important and necessary. It’s a huge responsibility to ensure that all eleven kitty residents are well cared for and have their needs met, so much so that Shuyun disclosed that she spends all of her time in the cafe every day of the week.

I wrote this post so quickly after visiting because I thought this is one establishment and cat cafe that I really hope will survive the cut-throat F&B and cafe industry. Once again, don’t come here expecting five-star dining. It’s simple and casual small bites. What you can expect though is fabulous coffee, larger-than-life cat personalities and plenty of love. Plus, you’ll find yourself filled with respect for Shuyun and her team.

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“I’m watching yer!”

PROMOTIONS

If you’re looking to bring your significant other out on date night to hang out with these fun felines, you might want to consider Wednesday!

Every Wednesday, bust your mid-week blues with their Wednesday Date Night Pawmotion. Swing by The Company of Cats with a friend and score 50% off the second entrance fee. That’s $7 off the first hour and includes one free drink – I’d recommend the hot coffees!

I’ll leave you with my favourite rendition of soft kitty by legendary Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory to get you in the mood to hop over to The Company of Cats soon.

The Company of Cats
6B Mosque Street, Level 2, Singapore 059486

Open Tuesdays to Fridays from 12:00pm to 10:00pm
Open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00am to 10:00pm
Closed on Mondays

Disclaimer: This is a hosted tasting, however all opinions shared are honest and my own based on my experience.

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