Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo have become household names among top celebrities here in the Philippines.
Jennylyn first made a name in the showbiz industry after winning the first season of reality talent competition StarStruck. Since then, she had successful films, such as English Only, Please, The Prenup, and Just the 3 of Us, where she garnered praise and awards on her acting performances. Dennis, on the other hand, had his first main role in GMA Network’s fantasy show Mulawin. He had his breakthrough performance playing as a transgender woman during World War II in Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita, where he won multiple awards.
But what fans and admirers of the couple may forget is that aside from being celebrities, Jennylyn and Dennis are in fact, certified feline lovers!
To share their love for the animals with others, the two opened a cat cafe earlier this year in Quezon City.
Jennylyn and Dennis named their cat cafe, “Litterbucks,” which was a combination of words from cat litter and the brand name Starbucks.
“Matagal na kaming cat lover ni Dennis,” Jennylyn shares with Animal Scene in an online interview.
“Kaya nung nagbakasyon kami ni Jen sa Japan, nakapunta kami sa isang cat cafe. Sobrang natuwa kami kaya naisipan namin to bring it here sa Philippines,” adds Dennis.
People can enjoy hanging out at the cafe with a cup or tea with cookies on the side. Jennylyn is also the person behind Chunky Dough, the cookie business she started back in 2018. But what attracts people to keep coming back at the cafe is, of course, the lovely felines taking residence at the cafe.
They currently have 14 different breeds of cats ranging from Scottish Fold, Himalayan, Scottish Straight, British Shorthair, and British Longhair, all ready for companionship at the cafe.
“Si Yair, kasi super sweet niya sa lahat. Nagcu-cuddle siya sa mga tao kahit hindi nila kilala,” shares Jennylyn when asked who was the crowd-favorite among the cats. Dennis says he can’t choose a his favorite, because he likes all their cats, but Jennylyn says her favorite will always be Clay, her first fur-baby.
Are cat cafes ethical?
Though some cat lovers may want to check out this new cafe, others may think twice before visiting the cafe wondering whether it is ethical to keep cats in it and have strangers come by every once in a while.
Oftentimes, cat cafes receive a bad rep because some establishments in fact use the animals just to make profit without thinking twice about its effects on them. Cat cafes started in Taiwan back in 1998, according to the Smithsonian. Since then, other cat cafes spread across the world, with Japan being the number one country with the highest number of cat cafes.
Unfortunately, most cats in these establishments are putting the felines’ health at risk. Cats, unlike dogs, are not very sociable animals. Cats need their alone time, so sharing their close quarters with a dozen other cats, and humans at the same time, is not ideal. They can be majorly stressed by the constant presence of strangers, which is what cat cafes are like.
John Bradshaw, of the University of Bristol’s Anthrozoology Institute, wrote an article questioning the wisdom of putting cats in the same space and have to be in constant contact with strangers. He said cats evolved as “solitary, territorial predators,” noting that it would be difficult to keep cats together because some cats tend to be loners, while others quickly band together, and some have tense relationships with the other cats.
So, what makes the Litterbucks different from these other cat cafe establishments?
Respect the cats
For Jennylyn and Dennis, their number one rule for visitors is to respect the animals.
“Respect the cat’s area. Wag nila pilitin na gumising if tulog [‘yung cats] or to play with them kapag pagod sila,” Jennylyn says. “You can’t touch the cats unless sila mismo ang lumapit sa’ yo.”
Litterbucks assures animal lovers that the lovely felines are well taken care of by a handler 24/7, even when the shop closes at night. To avoid overwhelming or stressing the cats with visitors, Jennylyn and Dennis make sure only up to 10 people be allowed inside with the animals.
For the showbiz couple, the animals help them deal with everyday stress and allows them to communicate better with other people.
“Nakakabawas sila ng stress. Masarap sa pakiramdam ‘yung may nagaaliw sa’yo,” Jennylyn says. “With our cats kasi [through] them, mas nakakausap namin ‘yung customers. [They] serve na parang tulay to be able to communicate with other people.”
Litterbucks is open from 10am to 10pm at 128 Animat Building, Maginhawa St. in Quezon City. They are currently strictly by reservation during this time and recommends visitors to book a day before their intended visit to the cafe. Check out their social media for more info and updates!