City Weekend

Brother Cream, Hong Kong’s celebrity cat, now lapping it up for charity

The British shorthair spares some time from his busy schedule to explain his new life as a philanthropist

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 3:51pm

Like many retired celebrities, Hong Kong’s superstar cat Brother Cream spends a lot of his time taking it easy, enjoying life and dedicating his time to charity.

After being evicted from his grocery store home in Tsim Sha Tsui East last May, the 11-year-old British shorthair shied away from the spotlight and devoted himself to helping the city’s destitute felines.

Today Brother Cream enjoys the tranquillity of the rural New Territories surrounded by his family – two humans and five cats. His apartment is modest but airy, covered wall-to-wall with Brother Cream merchandise and mementos.

Hanging from one wall are “Don’t touch” and “No flash” signs, relics from the shop days. On the far side of the room, a glass cabinet is filled with gadgets and pictures from the good old days, including an interview with CNN, and six books on Brother Cream.

The Post was allowed inside the “shrine” to pay tribute to Brother Cream and interview him through his owner Bee Ko Chee-shing and PR agent Nelson Lee.

So as a philanthropist, what’s your latest success story?

Through the Cream Bro Foundation, we supported Grandma Kang, who has been feeding stray cats every day for the past 30 years. She sacrificed her own free time and money to take care of animals otherwise forgotten by humans, so she truly deserves our help.

The Cream Bro Foundation is meant for small NGOs and selfless individuals who show unconditional love towards animals. It was indirectly established by my fans in 2013, when I went missing for 26 days. The day Mr Ko found me, I had lost three pounds, and fans started bringing food to help me recover, and soon I had so much of it I could share it with other animals. Let me tell you a secret, I gained four pounds from eating that food.

What are your favourite activities to chill out?

I keep busy by sleeping and waiting to be fed, but I’m also a rather remarkable actor. I can make funny faces when begging for food, and I sometimes pretend not to have eaten when Mr Ko goes out, so that I can get more food from Mrs Ko. People always assume I have a thing for fish, but I don’t go crazy for it, not at all. I can enjoy my cat food just fine.

I also cherish the time I spend with Mr Ko. We pray together and he talks to me. I’m a rather sociable guy, you know, because I’m used to having people around. Then there’s that beautiful lady you see down there, Sister Cream, my wife. Such a paw-sitive cat. No, we don’t have kittens. I got neutered years back. OK, next question.

What an exciting life you lead. What are some of your best memories?

The day I met Mr Ko and we started a new life together. I came from a breeding centre, you see, and at that time no one wanted cream-coloured British shorthairs. I was like a leftover kitten who was being bounced around from family to family until I met Mr Ko.

Then there’s the day I was “discovered” by the world, which was pretty sweet. In no time I found myself thrown into the limelight. CNN even compared me to that cat from the US, what’s his name again? Yes, Grumpy Cat. He’s worth something like US$7 million, but nope, not me. I’m just a cat from a small grocery store.

What does the future hold for you?

I would like to reopen the shop, one day. We had plans to open a cat cafe, but let’s be real, Hong Kong is not really a good place for small businesses. The rent of the old shop has shot up from HK$20,000 to

HK$80,000 since we moved out five years ago. Even as a celebrity cat, I couldn’t afford it. Plus, I’m getting old, guys. But I miss my fans. I mean, I love those pugs.

In 2017 I will launch my own cat food brand. So people, I’ll see you at the launch party.