In a homey and almost secluded corner of Eastern Housing at Mirpur, you can spot one of the most unique cafes in town. A “Welcome” sign, cut out in the shape of a cat, hangs at the entrance, and the stirring aroma of freshly brewed coffee and scrumptious delights beckon to all of your senses. The doorbell chimes melodically as you enter a café that looks like any other in town from the outside. But what awaits you behind the door is beyond your paw-somest expectations!
Capawcino Cat Cafe came to being as an initiative to accommodate stray cats where they can have the affection of humans, besides having a caring home. This first of its kind initiative in Bangladesh was taken by six friends; Rahat Rahman, Tanim-ul Haque Khan, Minhaz Uddin Shibly, Monirul Hoque Rifat, Fahad Bin Saad and Mooed Rasel, who share a common passion for good food and an unconditional love for animals.
Rahat had had cats and dogs for about seven years already, and teamed up with Tanim to take the first attempt to start this café around 2016. However, due to lack of resources and investors, it was left in the pipeline. Eventually, by some ‘fur-midable’ stroke of luck, the brilliant group of cofounders found each other to work out a common ground to actualise their dream of launching the first ever cat-themed café in Bangladesh.
From the very first step inside the café, you almost immediately feel at home; the interiors are decorated tastefully, with warm colours painted and vivid paintings placed across the walls.
The majority of the furnishing and elements are up-cycled and DIY by the owners themselves to save costs and give the place a homely ambience. The cat lounge is separated by glass walls and a sliding door. So, even when you are ordering your food, you can still catch glimpses of the adorable furballs idly reposing, or playfully prancing around in their comfort zone.
At the moment, Capawcino is home to over a dozen lovable cats and kittens, with new members joining the family every now and then. Most of them are rescued, adopted, or pets of the cofounders. Each of these majestic felines has a unique personality and befitting name too!
Take Charlie, for instance, the friskiest and friendly one; his name comes from the funny black moustache-like patch below his nose that will remind you of the great comedian Charlie Chaplin. Charlie has a twin brother, Panda, who is almost indistinguishable, with his black-white spotted torso, but possesses the exact opposite ‘purr-sona’ to his sibling and hates human company.
Diamond, Lilly, and Toothless are three super cute and cuddly kittens who were rescued soon after the café opened for operations. Then, there are Merida and Loki — they are four years old and the oldest of the lot, mostly staying by themselves and observing wisely from a distance. And finally, there’s Ash — the fluffy Persian beauty. She’s the laziest of them all (you’ll mostly notice her napping in a cosy corner like she belongs to some catty royalty!).
If you want to play and spend time with the furry friends, you have to reserve your time slot by paying 50 percent of the entry fee beforehand. The cat lounge can be accessed by patrons (aged over 12 years) for a fee of BDT 100/person for 30 minutes and BDT 200/person for an hour. These fees, as you may have already guessed, are mostly spent on food, medicines, vaccines, grooming, and other resources for the cats.
Patrons are still most welcome to visit any time without any entry fee or reservation like any other regular café if they want to just dine in/take away.
The café’s revamped menu offers a delightful range of savoury items, starting from various kinds of chicken wings and wedges to sweet-tooth favourites such as waffles, shakes and of course, coffee. The prices are surprisingly reasonable too, with everything costing within just around Tk 400!
Despite having one of the most mindfully creative business models ever, Capawcino has had its fair share of hurdles to overcome as well. According to the cofounders, as people are yet to become familiar with the concept of a cat-café, often end up criticising the cat zone fees, and the level of hygiene maintained when it comes to the food.
In addition to this, there was also an unfortunate incident recently when a cat was deliberately hurt by a cruel patron. The management shut the café down instantly for a few days to allow the cats to recuperate, and establish new ground rules, and CCTV cameras to ensure a safer environment for cats and visitors alike.
Furthermore, they assure that the café and cat zone are completely separate, so there is no questioning health and hygiene. Moreover, besides using the cat zone fees to raise the current bunch, Capawcino plans to go bigger, and open new branches to provide more patrons with the chance to express their love and shelter to more deprived cats. Many of these patrons are cat or animal lovers in general, but cannot perhaps adopt a pet due to restrictions or lack of facilities at their own homes. Hence, in the future, Capawcino also want to put up some of the rescued cats up for adoption so they can have loving furever homes.
On weekends and holidays, visitors can be seen crowding this cosy little café. With the advent of groups such as Care For Paws and Cat Society Bangladesh on social media, animal lovers have discovered a platform for themselves to express their love and determination to help animals in distress. This is one major impetus behind Capawcino’s rapidly thriving popularity. What’s more is that recent studies have stated that humans and cats naturally feel less stressed in each other’s company. So, fur-get your worries and drop by Capawcino Cat Café for a quick feline fix soon!
Capawcino Cat Café, House C52, Block C, Road W1, Eastern Housing, Pallabi 2nd Phase, Mirpur, Dhaka.
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