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SATURDAY, February 04, 2023
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A cafe in Vietnamese city is a home to stray cats and helps with adopting the pets

A cafe in Vietnamese city is a home to stray cats and helps with adopting the pets

THURSDAY, October 06, 2022

Two foreigners, Alex Ward and Geneva Marcelino, are running cafes that work with local animal rescue shelters to help stray dogs and cats find their new homes in Vietnam.

When Ward and Marcelino came to Vietnam and realised that there was a missing link between the great work that the local animal rescue shelters were doing and the understanding about rescuing and adopting pets in Vietnam, they set out to open cafes that would help in adopting dogs and cats.

The journey began three years ago.

Marcelino, who came from the Philippines, started to work and open an animal rescue agency named Pawfect Match in 2019 to work with local shelters and help stray animals in Vietnam to find their forever-owner and create a sustainable rescue process.

Ward, who came from the US, and Marcelino, also wanted to create a visible space to support the rescuing and adopting process without having to rely much on donations. Hence, R House, a dog cafe, was opened in 2020.

After gaining a good amount of experience from the cafe and the agency, recently in March, they opened a new spot in Ho Chi Minh City. This time, the place was created for cats, a cafe named “The Meow House by R House”, or Meow House for short.

The Meow House by R House is a cat cafe, which is also a foster home for cats. All the food and drinks on the menu are vegetarian and vegan, and the revenue from the cafe will be used to take care of cats as well.

So far, out of the 15 cats that have been staying in Meow House, two were adopted in May and June and the couple are going to welcome eight more cats to the cafe soon.

Alex Ward and Geneva Marcelino, owners of The Meow House by R House Cafe and foster home. VNS Photo Viet Dung

The cafe was opened in District 2, but it was planned to be moved to a new location on October 5 at 266 Dien Bien Phu Street, Binh Thạnh district.

Building “The Meow House by R House” was not easy even with all the experience that the couple has.

“The biggest challenge with the cat cafe is keeping the cats super healthy and ensuring there are no infections and diseases, and maintaining the health of the cats each day,” Ward said, while stroking Re, one of the cats at the cafe.

Forming a strong and professional model of cat rescue like this and making people believe in their work are big obstacles when you are not a native person.

Luckily, the couple had the help of not only the shelter's staff from Pawfect Match but also their Vietnamese friends.

Together, they have been working on showing everyone that the model that they are building, including the agency and cafes, is legitimate and people can trust and adopt cats from them.

Le Ngoc Chau Anh, a guest of Meow House who lives in Ho Chi Minh City, said that after seeing the information about the cafe on Facebook, she had come to experience the place and was very happy because all the cats are very friendly and are not afraid of humans.

When someone comes into the cafe and wants to adopt a cat, the adoption process is carried out very carefully.

Guests who come to the cafe can interact with cats and consider adopting them if possible. VNS Photo Viet Dung

“The first step of this process is to identify the cat that they feel the connection with that they would like to adopt,” Ward said. "From there, they will message our partner agency Pawfect Match."

Pawfect Match has a very comprehensive interview or questionnaire, which asks every individual about their current work status, living status, their history with animals and having pets.

One of the cats in their forever home with its new owner. Meow House would always check up on them regularly. Photo courtesy of Meow House by R House

“So, if they complete the interview or the questionnaire, it is passed on to the shelter, which has the final say if it was a match for the adoption or not," Ward said. "And then the adoption process starts out with a two-week adoption trial.”

Even after the cats are adopted, Meow House will check on them every six months and will always ask their owners for the animals' pictures and videos for updates on them.

The cats are always fully vaccinated and sterilised before being adopted.

An adoption fee will then be included for each cat, which is used for running the cafe.

No matter if it is a shelter or foster home, there are cats that have a hard time finding their matching owner. To Meow House, this is not a problem, and cats can stay in the cafe until their matching owner arrives.

Marcelino and Ward are also careful when it comes to bringing a new cat to the cafe. In order to make sure that all the cats are healthy, every cat that comes to stay at the cafe will have to have a good health record to help form a sustainable environment.

With all of the above work and obstacles, some might think that Ward and Marcelino are tired of taking care of all of that. But on the contrary, after three years of taking care of cats and dogs, the love that they have for the job right now is even more.

“The rescue effort for animals grows bigger because every day there is more connection with them, and every day we get to know them better, and it is one big family,” Alex said.

Marcelino told Vietnam News that when she was a small child, she would always take care of stray cats around her house by giving them scraps of food. By feeding the cats, she had learned to cherish and love all life that exists on Earth as much as a human.

“Loving is always hard, right? Whether it is human or animal. But, even though it is hard, because of the love, it keeps us going. We keep it going for the cats and now, we can see more cats have their lives changed thanks to the model,” Geneva shared.

Thuy Dan

Viet Nam News

Asia News Network

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