A purrfect coffee break

Borin Sopheavuthtey and Ean Monileak / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The catfe, located near Veal Preah Man Park, attracts many foreign customers . Ean Monileak

Animal-themed cafes have sprung up in the capital in recent months – giving both humans and animals a conducive venue to interact and connect. Chhma Catfé is not letting the chance to give pet lovers a combination of quality drinks and animal playtime just pass. The newly opened café, with more than a dozen cats roaming around freely and spreading their charm, is definitely creating a buzz in Phnom Penh. Borin Sopheavuthtey and Ean Monileak recently visited the Catfé and enjoyed the company of the furry creatures.

Ailurophiles – ailuros is cat in Greek and phile means lover – can jump for joy. There’s a new cat cafe in town purr-fect for August’s celebration of International Cat Day.

The world celebrated the annual cat day, created by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2002, last August 8. But at Chhma Catfé, you can still celebrate the cuteness of these furry animals along with a cup of coffee. Chhma Catfé is the newest pet cafe in Phnom Penh that offer a great venue for both humans and cats to interact and play around. Chhma means cat in Khmer and Catfé is a word play of cat + café.

Chhma Catfe provides a place for humans and cats to interact and play. Photo: Jean-Francois Perigois

“We opened on the first of June. We want to introduce to the Cambodian people the different types of cats. We also want Cambodian people to start showing affection to animals like cats or dogs, animals in general. We want them to love animals and stop consuming their meat,” said Chhorn Sovanda, supervisor of Chhma Catfé.

There are over 20 cats from different breeds such as Sphynx, American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Scottish Fold, Maine Coon, Bengal, Persian cat and American curl. These foreign cats were brought in from Russia, Thailand, Europe and America so locals can have close encounters with them.

Jack, the dark grey Scottish Fold, has been gaining much of the attention from customers. He was even voted as the star of Catfé on Facebook. The sleepyhead seldom plays with customers, but his adorable face surely makes up for this.

Chhma Catfe offers not just quality drinks, but quality playtime with over a dozen cats as well. Photo: Jeff Perigois

The other cats, meanwhile, gamely interact with the customers – giving everyone, cat lovers or not, the kind of affection only cats can give.

“We plan to buy a lot more cats for our café. However since most of the cats are expensive, we need to see how our Catfé is going first.”

In terms of hygiene and animal welfare, Chhma Catfé takes pride in giving extra care to their pets as well as their customers. Mr Sovanda said that the cats are given their own trays of food and drinks, and have their own toilet, playground and toys. They take care of their own business – they eat when they are hungry, drink when they are thirsty, and go to their toilet when they need to. The cats are trained to be independent.

Even when they’re sleeping, cats have a kind of charm that draws people’s attention. Photo: Borin Sopheavuthtey

Mr Sovanda said his team has faced and is still facing a lot challenges on how to give the best care for the cats such as giving regular shots and washing. He further expressed that his Catfé prioritises the cats’ well-being above anything else.

“We do have house rules and I hope people take a look at our house rules so that they will not cause problems to the cats. We have staff monitoring the interaction of customers and the cats in case they get too aggressive when they play with the cats,” Mr Sovanda explained.

“If the cats get scared and get sick, we need to spend money on them. The most challenging part is the cat’s health condition. We need to take very good care of them and give them shots once a month.”

Customers enjoy taking photos of the furry animals. Photo: Ean Monileak

There are a few animal-themed cafes in Phnom Penh recently, but those establishments have come and go. Presently, Chhma Catfé is the only cat cafe standing. It is particularly popular among foreign tourists who love animals. Mr Sovanda said they sometimes visit the Catfé during their entire stay in Phnom Penh.

Chhma Catfé is located at Street 178, near Veal Preah Man Park, and is open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm. Celebrate cat day every day!

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