Bahrain's First Cat Cafe: Catopia

A cat café has finally opened in Bahrain and I am beyond thrilled. If you didn’t know, I’m a crazy cat lady. Unfortunately, I don’t house 10 cats but I am obsessed with the independent creatures. I’m the slave of one feline, Mili. We had two cats but our other cat, Snarf, passed away last year and we’re looking forward to getting a companion for Mili again, soon.
I {and my entire family} carry cat biscuits in my car, and I regularly TNR cats. Trap, Neuter, Release. This means that you trap a stray cat, take them to a vet who does surgery on them so they can’t have babies anymore, and then you release them back in the area from where you trapped them. This helps control the teeming population of strays so we don’t see more cats and kittens plastered into the roads on highways or dying because of the heat. Remember that cats and dogs are domestic animals and they’re supposed to be pets, looked after in a loving human home, not scavenging garbage cans for food.

Cookie checking out a cookie

So a cat café then is the perfect place where cats can live happily, and cat-crazy people like me can have their fill of quality cat time. I love cat cafés so much that I actively search for one each time I travel to a new country. And I always used to rue the fact that even though there are so many cats in Bahrain, there’s no cat café. Which is why I was so thrilled when I got to know that a cat café was FINALLY opening in Bahrain. I came to know in February and I had been waiting excitedly for it to open since then. Catopia opened last month. YAY!!!

Let me make it clear now in the beginning of this post that this is not a sponsored post. Catopia has not paid me to write this. I love cats and the concept of a cat café so much that I decided to write a post about it. I want more and more people to get to know these loyal, loving, intelligent creatures, change their thinking about them {CATS ARE NOT DISLOYAL! I’M SO TIRED OF HEARING THIS!!}, and adopt them so there are lesser cats on our streets.

Situated in Adliya behind Dessange, Catopia is a beautiful café that houses 13 cats who have all been adopted or rescued by breeders or families who have abandoned them or were found on the street in a bad condition. The café offers a coffee and a cookie to each customer visiting the cat area, included in the cover charge which is the fee for the first hour. There’s a nominal additional fee for every hour after.

Catopia is the brainchild of two best friends, Samiha Bashir and Hafsa Saleem, both 26-year-olds, hailing from Pakistan. They love cats and thought that the concept of a cat café was amazing, especially since Bahrain has so many stray cats but no cat café. Hafsa resigned from her career as a chartered accountant, while Samiha still works as a Digital Project Manager.

Samiha and Hafsa, the fab owners of Catopia

Both best friends put in a lot of work into this passion project, making sure the location was just right, that the kitties have enough space to move around and play, enough toys so they don’t get bored, nooks and crannies high up where they can go and sleep when they’re tired of human interaction. There are strict rules of the cat area which include taking your shoes off, sanitizing your hands when you enter and leave, no children younger than 3 years, etc. There’s also an outdoor space for customers and a non-cat area where people who don’t want to meet cats can sit and have coffee. Both women are thrilled that they opened the first cat café in Bahrain. I’m thrilled that the cat café is run by women. Because, you know, we do everything better.

Rules of the cat area 
I’ve visited Catopia a lot of times and I can sit for hours and hours because, for me, a cat café is the perfect place to let all your stress go. Even better than a spa or the beach. Just sitting and watching cats play, or stroking a cat, or having a kitten purr in your lap is enough to turn back the years. Which is why I love cat cafés so much and I love Samiha and Hafsa for opening one here.

Dawn sitting very uncharacteristically politely
So if now you’re wondering what exactly is the goal of Catopia {or any cat café}, let me educate you. It’s great for people who love cats but can’t keep one at home. Or for those looking to adopt one and want to familiarize themselves with their behaviours before they can make up their minds to get one. It’s great for people with cat phobia, as they can reduce their fear at this place. And of course, one of Hafsa and Samiha’s main goals is that Catopia promotes kindness towards cats and all animals.

But the ultimate goal is to get people to adopt cats from the café and take them to their forever home. This way, the café can keep rescuing more cats and letting them have a safe haven to live in temporarily until they find their forever home. The adoption process at Catopia is fairly simple- you pay for all the previous medical bills of the cat, and you take the cat home.

I love the mix of cats in Catopia. There are street cats, beautiful breed cats, kittens and older cats. The caretaker of the cats, Catopia’s affectionately termed “cat lady”, Nasra, looks after them in the cat area. This woman is such a powerhouse! Not only does she look after the cats in the café, but she’s the one who got all the rescued cats together and made sure all got along with each other before they came to the café. This is a very difficult job as cats are territorial and it’s very hard to make one cat get along with another. But Nasra did all of this for all the 13 cats that are there and will do the same for the next ones.

Nasra also makes sure no one mishandles the felines. She makes sure they’re watered and fed, she trims their nails and she bathes them. Whew! Not just this, she cheerfully and patiently answers all the thousands of questions that visitors throw at her about cats, myself included.

Nasra trimming the cat's nails. The expression on the kitty's face! LOL
A better pic of Catopia's Cat Lady, the incredible Nasra
 In addition to the cat area, Catopia has other exciting cat activities planned. They'll soon start a Cat Theatre where people can watch a movie while cats purr in their laps, Cat Yoga where cats can rub against your legs as you strike a warrior pose, cat board games, cat open mic events, and more! They have a special event area for all such activities and the area can even be booked for events in the future.

Couple goals
Feeding Nachos a treat. He's half Maine Coon!

Simba the mighty 

Dawn gobbling up a treat from my friend Nicole's hand
I keep asking them if they’re accepting donations as I’d like to donate money that will go towards the medical bills and care of the cats. {Other cat cafés around the world accept donations.} They tell me that hopefully, they’ll be accepting donations too, soon.
For more info on Catopia, check out their website, their Facebook and Instagram. You can also call them on +973 17 231412 or {mob} +973 3350 2726. They’re open every day from 1 pm to 11 pm. Now go visit!

Until next time,

Shabana Feroze

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me a comment! I love reading what you've got to say!

[name=About Me] [img=] [description=I'm an entrepreneur, published author, fitness instructor and artist. But most of all, I'm me. And I LOVE being me. Through this blog, I want to inspire you to love being you, too. I enjoy dressing up, chasing my passions, travelling the world, staying fit and encouraging others to do the same. If you'd like to know more, click the Who I Am tab on the top of the site! Thank you for reading my blog!] (facebook= (instagram= (twitter= (bloglovin= (pinterest=