He loves to snuggle inside your bag, and his grey, furry face brightens up as soon as he sees you. His impish acts remind you of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. He is Benji, one of the most playful furballs at "Meow Carnival" in Dhanmondi 7.
Meow Carnival is not an ordinary café because not only does it serve one of the best potato wedges in town, it also has a pet shop and a veterinary clinic along with a cat zone where visitors can play with feline friends.
When you enter the place, bright wall paintings of cats of various sizes and shapes will catch your attention. Some are gazing at crimson sunsets and some are just pointing their whiskers at you. The ambiance is cheerful and lively.
The menu is affordable and designed to please young customers. Within the range of Tk149-Tk349, there is an array of fast food items such as milkshakes, sandwiches, burgers, and fries.
The cat zone, which is separated from the restaurant by a glass door, is where a group of 10-12 local and foreign bred furry friends await you. An hour of playing with them costs Tk100.
However, since many of us are not yet used to handling animals, it is better to enter this room only if you feel comfortable around cats. Also, groping them by their tails, or waking them up from naps, is a big no-no!
When we visited this place, Benji greeted us at the door which a high jump! Full of energy, he immediately melts your heart with his liveliness. He resides at the cat zone along with other furbabies such as Lucifer, Gucci, Misty and many more. All are adorable and cosy up to the visitors within minutes.
The pet clinic and shop are situated on the other side of the restaurant. The shelves in the shop are lined with packets of litter, cat food, pet shampoo and more. Meow Carnival has been designed in a way so that pet owners can get all the services at the same place.
The Capawcino Cat Café was opened in Mirpur last year and following its success, two of its co-owners, Rahat Rahman and Fahad Bin Saad decided to open its bigger version as "Meow Carnival" in Dhanmondi 7. The others who joined in with them are Mahadi Anwar, Syeda Zannatul Qubra, and Saddam Patwary, who is a vet and the clinic's in-charge.
The young co-owners are all animal owners themselves, and some of them have as many as 16 cats in their home! They do not stop at being just entrepreneurs and are always trying to raise awareness against animal cruelty, a trait uncommon among many young people of their age.
"We aim to expand Meow Carnival into foster care where people can drop off cats for adoption. We already have rescue cats here and at Capawcino," said Rahat Rahman.
How did these cat lovers become connected? To this Fahad replied, "Saddam Bhai contacted me one day with his idea of opening a pet clinic, and then I spoke to Rahat about it. And gradually more co-owners from our friend circles joined in with us."
With the danger of spreading coronavirus around, the café owners are vigilant all the time about maintaining hygiene. Bottles of hand sanitizers, soaps, etc are kept inside the cat zone and all the animals have regular health check-ups.
If one of them catches a cold, he/she is immediately isolated from the others and given the best possible treatment.
If you love cats, or simply want to enjoy a cuppa, Meow Carnival is the go-to place.