Sofitel Manila’s cat sanctuary seeks adopters ahead of hotel’s closure

June 7, 2024 - 12:54 PM
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Sofitel Cats
Cats from Sofitel Manila's Whiskers Program in this photo posted on its Facebook page on March 11, 2024 (whiskersprogram/Facebook)

Cat advocates called on Filipinos to adopt the rescued felines at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila before it closes by the end of the month.

The luxury hotel said it would close and cease operations on July 1, while its last day of business is on June 30.

PPHI President Esteban Peña Sy cited “safety concerns” for its closure.

He said the decision was made “after getting advices from independent and internationally recognized safety consultant firms” and the Occupational Safety and Health Center of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

PPHI stands for holding company Philippine Plaza Holdings Inc., which owns Sofitel.

Sy previously said that international consultants and the DOLE came up with reports declaring the hotel’s integrity and working conditions no longer safe.

These include the hotel’s possible wear and tear of essential equipment like water pipes and electrical wires.

The closure has led cat advocates to spread the word about the fate of the Sofitel cats under its “Whiskers Program.”

The initiative was born in 2022 as part of the hotel’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs.

Joel Dela Cruz, the primary cat caretaker at the bay area hotel who is also the property maintenance supervisor, shared more details about the program.

“Nagkaka-complaint [kasi galing] sa mga guests, parang ayaw nila. Ginawa namin is to create a place na pwede paglagyan sa kanila, kaya nabuo ‘yung sanctuary,” he told SPOT.ph.

“Isa ako sa nagka-idea para sa program, pero [in charge of] implementation is ‘yung general management ng Sofitel,” Dela Cruz added.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-in employees would feed stray cats around the hotel.

Sofitel’s cat sanctuary consists of stray felines in the area which were rescued through the initiative.

They are placed in well-ventilated enclosures and playpens amid the greenery of the hotel’s property.

The “Whiskers Program” offers food, shelter and medical care like vaccination and spaying to the community cats. It also promotes adoption and responsible pet ownership.

Following the hotel’s reported closure, cat advocates have been raising awareness about the fate of its community cats.

Sofitel marketing and communications manager Ivy Camille Quindoza said that while their adoption rate “has been very positive over the last few weeks,” they are still looking for people who can at least temporarily take the cats in.

“We are also looking for foster parents who can temporarily home those who won’t be adopted by [the] end of the month. We are still supporting the cat sanctuary to ensure the cats are given the best care and [are] ready for their new homes,” she was quoted by Esquire Philippines.

“Our cat caretakers are overseeing the adoption of the cats if we have interested fur parents,” Quindoza added.

If some cats in the sanctuary remain unadopted, they will be transferred to another shelter willing to take them in.

Those willing to adopt only have to contact Dela Cruz at 0939-248-3750 or the Whiskers Program’s Facebook page if they want a shelter visit.

The cat sanctuary said there are no strict requirements or online forms to fill out.

June is also known as the national “Adopt-A-Cat” month in the United States.

The month also marks the height of “kitten season” when many baby cats are born but often end up in shelters or in the streets.

Studies have found that keeping a cat as a companion may reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, lower the risk of heart attack and reduce allergies to other pets, grass, and dust mites.