Bichi Mao Artist, Olive Yong, Draws Chonky Cats in Heartwarming Tales

Marked by rounded features, gentle color tones and overall chonkiness, Olive Yong’s Bichi Mao comics has garnered more than 200 thousand followers on Instagram. Her Pusheen-esque characters are definitely a package of delight that warms the hearts of readers around the world. The slice-of-life webcomic revolves around family, animal welfare and the hilarious antics of both cats and humans alike.

A Self-Taught Artist

Since young, drawing has always been one of Olive’s passions. Pencil and paper were her go-to’s and she worked primarily on realistic portraits. While she harbored the dream of developing her passion into a career, her education was not officially grounded in digital arts. Becoming a webcomic artist, she reflects, never crossed her mind. She majored in Music in Education.

Olive’s signature kawaii cat.

It was 3 years ago when she was introduced to digital drawing and delved into the Procreate App. Like many budding artists, she started sharing her work on social media platforms and was overwhelmed to amass a large following within a year.

“I was very surprised that people enjoy and love what I’m doing,” Olive says. “Their support means the world to me and drives me to continue creating.” Fans often send messages and emails to share how her art and comics have impacted their life.

Purrfect Inspiration

Chonky cats of all breeds and fur colors are seen in the Bichi Mao comics. The earliest pieces even feature rather naughty cats with self-entitled attitudes – as evident from the wordplay on the comic’s name.

A cat lover, Olive’s reason for their prominent presence is simple: “I LOVE CATS. They are cute and each cat has their different personalities, just like a human.”

On social media handles, Olive refers to herself and her feline characters as Mao (猫), the Chinese word for cats. The majority of Bichi Mao characters today are endearing kitties with good-natured chubbiness.

Besides cats, her inspirations include fellow Malaysian comic artist, Fishball, who is well-known for her My Giant Nerd Boyfriend series. Olive is also strongly moved by the masterful storytelling in Pixar and Disney films, which she describes “has never failed” to make her cry.

In her own way, she is passionate about recreating witty, heartwarming tales to touch lives. While the comics focus on the humor in everyday life, some scenes do reflect the less joyful aspects of reality. In these moments, the narration further tugs at one’s heartstrings as the event is presented from the perspective of the childlike Maos. Still, the story also explains that one can always give kindness and solace to another. Readers, then, can pay the love forward in real life.

“I enjoy sharing my views on certain topics to bring awareness to the public, in hopes of helping to make the world a little kinder,” she says.

Bichi Mao’s Roots in Malaysia

Olive shares how Malaysian fans are often surprised to see her at local comic events. They did not realize Olive was from Malaysia as well! Indeed, the majority of Bichi Mao’s followers come from countries on the other side of the world, such as the United States.

In Malaysia, the local academia-focused system means that resources and publishing opportunities for art creators are scarce. There is also the general stigma that artistic careers are merely alternative routes for those less academically adept. Due to these limitations, Olive acknowledges the difficulty of not knowing whom to turn to, or even where to start, when wanting to step into the industry.

Thankfully, the internet empowers comic artists like Olive with the ability to showcase their work directly to a global audience. Finding success on the platform, she still hopes to gain greater local recognition down the road and be an official part of the country’s comic industry, like Fishball, in the future.

More Books and Comics

Earlier in February, Olive published her first book, Kawaii Kitties: Learn How to Draw 75 Cats in All Their Glory. It is a step-by-step guide for beginners interested in kawaii drawing and of course, cats.

Now a full-time freelance illustrator, she is currently working on her second book, Color My Mood, a children’s coloring book featuring up to 60 illustrations. She also plans to venture beyond Bichi Mao with new comics and characters.

“While there are a lot of uncertainties that come along with a freelance career, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Olive says. “I’m really excited and proud to continue my journey as an illustrator and webcomic artist.”

As for her stories, she remains committed to spreading love, positivity and smiles to the world.

Connect with Bichi Mao

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Best Cat Litter for Cats with Respiratory Problems (Chronic Cases, Asthma, Allergies)

Searching for the best cat litter is one of the biggest challenges for cat parents. You’re probably here because your cat has chronic respiratory issues. It could be asthma, a persistent allergy, or other chronic conditions that remain even after disease recovery.

Don’t worry, you’re not an over-thinking Cat Momma or Papa. It’s great that you’re looking into safe cat litter for your special needs cat!

For cats with respiratory problems, you’ll need the safest, dust-free cat litter you can find. That’s what this blog post is all about: the best types of cat litter for cats with sensitive respiratory systems.

Best Cat Litter for Cats with Chronic Respiratory Issues

How do I choose a suitable cat litter?

From top to bottom, the pet shop’s aisle is packed with bags of cat litter from different brands, made of different materials, different textures …

Where should you start? For cats and kittens with respiratory issues, you should choose cat litter that is:

  • Unscented. Don’t be swayed by fancy marketing like “Natural Lavender Scent” or get tempted by deodorizing beads and pods.
  • In pellet form, rather than sand or fine granules. Pellet cat litter has fewer smaller particles and dust.
  • Made of gentle, natural materials. Nopity nope to traditional clay and silica crystal litter.

Best Cat Litter Recommendations (Only the safest, I promise.)

Personal Pick: Green Kat Cat Litter (6L/14L/24L)

best cat litter safe paper cat litter green kat
Green Kat Cat Litter
  • Made from recycled newspaper.
  • Non-toxic even if ingested by cats.
  • Relatively dust free. 99% is actual litter. Only the bottom 1% has some flaky bits and paper dust.
  • Smells like newspaper. Does not irritate your cat when he/she sniffs the litter.

The one disadvantage of Green Kat: it doesn’t clump. To make the bag last, you need to manually separate the soiled litter from clean ones.

Remove the litter once a day, so your cat’s whisk-like paws won’t end up mixing the used and unused bits thoroughly together.

A Green Kat 24L bag lasts around 3 weeks for my 3 cats. We get the cheapest deal from Perromart.

My special needs cat, Quacky, has used Green Kat litter since he was a kitten. It’s more than a year now. Although his breathing condition can’t be permanently cured, he’s grown so much stronger and is now the most handsome tom. He’s been doing great with Green Kat!

If Green Kat isn’t available in your local area, check out a similar paper cat litter below.

Similar: Purina Yesterday’s News Paper Cat Litter

best cat litter paper litter yesterday's news
Purina’s Yesterday’s News Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter
  • Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (based on 5000+ reviews, at time of writing)
  • Chewy Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (based on 700+ reviews, at time of writing)

While I have not used Purina’s paper cat litter, there is no shortage of feedback from committed cat parents.

The few negative reviews for Yesterday’s News cat litter tend to center around “poor odor control”. Yet many positive reviewers are happy with how “the odor is absorbed and doesn’t linger”. This conflicting experience is the same for Green Kat cat litter users.

A word from personal experience: odor control is very subjective. The smell of your cat’s urine and poop greatly depends on your cat’s diet, and how often you clean the litter box.

You’d be surprised how a slightly pricier, but healthier, cat kibble can greatly reduce urine odor. Cleaning out your cat’s litter box once a day is good practice, too!

Choosing the Best Cat Litter for Your Cat

The right cat litter ensures your cat’s comfort and in the long term, saves you hundreds of dollars in vet bills. This is especially important for cats with asthma, sensitive respiratory systems or cats prone to allergies. Double that importance if your cat’s litter box is in his/her cage day and night.

I hope this blog post gave you a more complete idea of the best and safest cat litter for your special needs cat! Tried paper cat litter? Tell me how it went in the comments.

If you have personal recommendations on the best cat litter, I’d love to hear your take too!

Behind the Blog Post: Quacky’s Background

Quacky is my special needs cat. He was terribly sick when we rescued him. Pale and weak, he couldn’t really eat. He couldn’t even sleep. In his cage, we would place rolled-up towels and clothes to support his chest, to help with his breathing.

best cat litter for cats with respiratory problems
Little Sister (top) and Quacky (bottom). During grooming sessions, Little Sister makes sure the receiving cat stays put by squashing them, as demonstrated.

Quacky used Green Kat cat litter over his many months of recovery. Having safe cat litter in his cage at least prevented yet another worry. (P.S: Quack, at the rate I’m going, you can be Green Kat’s ambassador already. 😂)

He can now take good ol’ cat naps whenever he wants. He loves exploring the outdoors (we supervise) and enjoys mutual grooming sessions with his companions. Behold, he’s ten times fluffier!

10 Bunny Owners and Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses, Part 2

Bunny parents, top up the Timothy hay and remember to serve your rabbit bananas (well, just a tiny bit). Let’s hop onto the next five bunny-inspired businesses.

Read Part 1 of the article here.

6. BELLA by emma, by Emily Chuen & Magdalene Kong

Individually handcrafted from scratch, BELLA by Emma’s fashion accessories carry that special bespoke flair. The founder, “Emma”, represents talented ladies Emily and Magdalene. From procuring materials, fulfilling customer orders (by hand!) to photoshoots and marketing, the dynamic two-person team handles it all.

As a student, Magdalene was already making bags on her sewing machine. Later in life, they gained further skills while working as part-timers in a local leather shop. Their eventual usage of vegan leather was inspired by none other than their bunnies, Ash and Marshmallow. Further proof? Spot the brand’s exquisite, gold-toned bunny logo.

“Bella” means “beautiful” in French. True to their purpose, BELLA’s designs bring a fun, timeless and charming look to any outfit. “We want our products to bring confidence and remind people that they are simply beautiful and unique as they are,” Emily and Magdalene share.

Although real leather is traditionally seen as more superior, quality-wise, but Emily and Magdalene are determined that animals should not be sacrificed for the needs and wants of humans.

“We are always actively sourcing and testing out vegan leather and hardware from long-standing suppliers,” they emphasized. “[We] make sure that the leather and materials we use are of high quality and durable for daily usage.” Indeed, in this modern time and age, it’s high time we embrace the kinder alternative.

Last April, BELLA partnered with House Rabbit Society Singapore, donating up to 40% of sales proceeds in that month. (Every year, the month of April sees high bunny abandonment cases due to Easter Day.)

Emily and Magdalene hope to grow BELLA into a full fashion and lifestyle brand, providing greater variety and customized products for customers. As bunny lovers, they’re excited to contribute more towards animal welfare along the journey.

7. Rabbit Treasures, by Kristi DeVentura

Chew, dig, chill. Cardboard boxes are a bunny’s tunnel wonderland. Rabbit Treasures’s premium cardboard houses make the cutest miniature town for your rabbit — complete with “Café, Park and Cabin” — right in your living room.

Bunny and Rabbit Treasures’s Complete House Set.

A long time ago, Kristi thought rabbits “lived in a hutch and didn’t really do anything”. But a handsome spotted bunny changed just that when he came into their family. Once Kristi realized how she would rearrange her schedule to avoid disrupting Bunny’s routine, it was the moment she knew she “would do anything for this little guy”.

“From the time we brought him home to now (8 years later), he has been a pure joy. He has endless love to give and helps me through some of the toughest times,” Kristi says. “He is the perfect addition to our family.”

Kristi often bought shipping boxes and made them into fun houses for Bunny. Soon, she decided to share the joy with other bunny lovers, too.

The house set took two years of work behind-the-scenes. “The biggest challenge I faced was finding a supplier to make them. Once I found a supplier, I had to have cutting and printing dies made.” Kristi adds that heavier cardboard is used to ensure the houses were sturdy for international bunny usage (and destruction).

“I love receiving pictures of their babies enjoying and relaxing in my creation,” Kristi expresses. “It brings real joy to my day.”

Besides the original cardboard house set, Rabbit Treasures also sells a small range of adorable bunny-themed accessories. Rabbit Treasures goes on to donate a portion of proceeds to bunny rescue, Rabbit Wranglers.

8. The Well Kept Rabbit, by Anna Ehredt

The Well Kept Rabbit offers a holistic blend of wellness herbs. Each wholesome package of flavorful goodness focuses on common bunny health issues, such as digestive, molting and arthritis problems. Herbs are organic and sustainably sourced from ethical suppliers.

“My initial research began with creating an organizational chart of what each herb is traditionally used for,” Anna says. While highly experienced as a House Rabbit Society Educator, she also reached out to Lucile Moore — author of Rabbit Nutrition and Healing — in the early days for expert knowledge.

Not quite sure which one’s for your rabbit? Try them all with The Well Kept Rabbit’s herbal sample set.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just creating treats that aesthetically looked appealing,” Anna explains. Rabbits forage by nature, so the products consist of a variety of flowers, barks and grasses. Other than the six “holistic health” support line, The Well Kept Rabbit also offers bite-sized bunny nibbles and extends the blends to a Poppers treat series.

Through TWKR, Anna recalls the amazing experiences she had with bunny owners. “One that always stuck out to me,” she recalls, “is a message from a customer: My girl has only a few things that excite her left, as she is disabled and blind. Those poppers give her so much joy!” Several TWKR products are even named after beloved furry customers who crossed the Bridge.

Buster, the group’s love-bug

At home, Anna cares for 4 adopted fellows: Buster the love-bug, Jiggy the sassy teenager girl, Delilah the foodie and Symphony the troublemaker. But she always remembers her first bunny, Jujube, fondly. That one black, store-bought bunny who started her journey into bunny welfare.

Note: Originally under The Well Kept Rabbit, the Hop n’ Flop bed now has its own exclusive Etsy store. Made for bunny flopping comfort, many bunny owners also find that the supportive beds assists head tilt bunnies with balance issues.

9. Friend Rabbit, by Bunnico Cheng

Friend Rabbit is a cozy, quaint café based in Taiwan. Founder Bunnico is a photographer who combines her love for rabbits with art, seeking to showcase the beauty of lagomorphs. Besides framed portraits, her work extends into the form of postcards, calendars and photography books.

Bunnico shares her life with two bunnies, Lusa (露莎) and U Bao (U宝). “Lusa is independent, yet a little introverted and shy. She’s like my guardian angel, quietly watching me as I go about my work,” Bunnico describes. In contrast, U Bao is the outgoing one. “He always charms people and approaches them on his own. He’s a helping hand when it comes to serving customers.”

Functioning as a café, light drinks and snacks are a must, but the shop sells potted plants and handpicked pre-loved books as well, adding a tasteful quality that draws in people from different walks of life into appreciating the wonder of rabbits.

However, Bunnico’s main focus lies in her photography work. Customers can book a photography session for their rabbits. The cafe’s garden serves as the perfect backdrop.

Bunnico remembers a conversation with a customer in the garden, where the topic gradually turned to life and one’s final departure. The customer’s bunny was exploring the garden’s greenery, but decided to hop over to the humans and settled with them, long ears calm yet attentive.

“How [the bunny] responded really made me feel that rabbits are incredibly perceptive and intuitive. They’re just so open and accepting of the things around them, and of us,” Bunnico says. A passionate lover of animals and art, she also plans to publish an independent magazine in the future.

Bunnico’s limited edition rabbit portrait, “In The Morning Light (沐浴晨光)”

10. Chez Lapin, by Claire Landuyt

Chez Lapin sprouted from founder Claire’s love of French culture and – who else? – rabbits. After years of battling skin issues and suffering at the hands of harsh commercial products, Claire decided to craft her own natural skincare products. Plus the loveliest candle collections, too.

For Chez Lapin, Claire uses safe and gentle ingredients such as floral waters, clays and essentials oils. Completed with the logo of a candle-bearing bunny, the brand’s beautiful earth-toned products evoke the air of fresh blooms and classic Parisian streets.

“I keep the idea of simplicity in mind. I travel and wander as often as I can, all over the world, seeking inspiration from the natural elements.” It works; customers come back to Chez Lapin again and again, sharing how her products have changed their spirit, wellness and life for the better.

Spot Chez Lapin at various farmers’ markets in Pittsburgh!

Animals have had a huge role in Claire’s life. As a strong advocate of cruelty-free production, she tests her products on herself, family and friends. Her bunny, Coriander, is a foster-turned-permanent-resident and alpha to the family’s Labrador, Millie.

Coriander and Millie

“Without my love for animals and rabbits, I don’t believe that my enthusiasm would have carried me this far,” she reflects. Committed to the healing elements nature offers, animal welfare and environmental causes, the reward is knowing that the values she holds close to her heart are translated into her creations and contributed to the world at large.

Chez Lapin contributes a portion of sales to animal rescues such as Rabbit Wranglers, where Coriander is an alumnus. Claire shares photos and details of the animals helped with Chez Lapin’s monthly contributions on her business’s blog.

Special thanks to all the incredible business owners for sharing the heartfelt stories behind their work. Drop by their social media and show them (and their awesome bunnies) your love.

Psst … Read Part 1 yet? Check out the first five bunny-inspired businesses here.

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10 Bunny Owners and Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses, Part 1

For those of us who share our lives with a bunny, we’re all familiar with the little things they do: that nose bump when you come home from work, that eager sniff when you peel a banana, and not forgetting the stubborn thump when you manage to annoy them. *fump*

Rabbits may be small, but they have the biggest impact on our hearts. Inspired by their rabbits, here are 10 amazing bunny people and their creative business ventures.

1. Oishi Bunnies, by Gigi “Cookie Yiyi”

Oishi Bunnies creates the most delicately detailed bunny treats. Reminiscing of the miniature wonder of Sylvanian Families, founder Gigi, fondly known as Cookie Yiyi, adopts a herb-based approach to making bunny-friendly cookies and birthday cakes.

The treats are made with ingredients such as organic herb filling, organic oats as well as real fruits. The concept came from Cookie’s own experience.

Cookie has 3 bunnies of her own: Barley, alpha lionhead lop; Bubble, sweet holland lop, and Missy, senior harlequin ninja bunny. Cookie turned to natural remedies when Bubble, who was due for neutering, failed his blood test six times despite the best vet care.

birthday cakes for bunnies
Barley and his Momma’s freshly baked layered cakes

Putting in the effort to research, source for seeds and grow organic herbs to boost Bubble’s health, nature works its wonder where lab-processed medicine failed. Cookie’s hard work paid off, Bubble finally passed his blood test and was neutered safely.

Soon, Cookie started making herb-based cookies and gave samples to friends. Receiving positive response, she went on to channel her creative instinct into baking cakes for bunnies.

“Watching those happy faces chew healthy cookies or smash their birthday cakes can really brighten up anyone’s day!” she shares happily.

birthday cakes for rabbies
Oishi Bunnies mini cakes

As a private rescuer, Cookie has personally rescued and rehomed several rabbits to loving families. Through Oishi Bunnies, Cookie feels honored that she can utilize her creativity to help and support bunny shelters. She has also met other bunny products and service providers who share the same spirit in giving back.

“We look forward to working with our partners,, myhappytales and crafteebun in the near future,” Cookie says. For the upcoming Christmas season, Oishi Bunnies will be fundraising for Bunny Wonderland and House Rabbit Society Singapore.

2. Fat Rabbit Farm, by Jason Ponggasam & Patty Variboa

Passionate creatives Jason and Patty are the founders and designers at Fat Rabbit Farm. Prior to their bunny-based venture, the couple ran a design studio named CreativePear that helps businesses with branding and identity. Today, Fat Rabbit Farm stocks a brilliant, joyful range of apparel, vinyl stickers, enamel pins and more.

Now, it’s a mistake to think of them as just another shop with graphic slogan tees – there are stories and personality behind each character. Inspired by their bunnies Babee and Blanket, Jason and Patty introduce Fat Rabbit Farm as a “magical, floating kingdom”, a place of fun and discovery inhabited by whimsical fellows.

“The real-life Babee and Blankets’ personalities are definitely instilled into the animated characters. Babee has always been a spunky, happy-go-lucky bunny with a big appetite! Blanket has always been an adventurer and a daring bun,” they explained about their bunny’s characters.

Their current rabbit, CoffeeCake, hasn’t been cartoonized, but they describe him as “our boss and makes sure the real Babee and Blanket are watching over us from above.”

Fat Rabbit Farm has come a long way since 2006 but the committed founders themselves have not stopped bringing humor, fun and light-heartedness into people’s everyday lives.

“We have fans and customers tell us how our creations brighten their day, or inspires them in some way – to even helping them through anxiety and depression. Making people feel happy and joy through our silly characters is an honor and we hope to continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

gift for bunny lover

3. Napoleon Bunnyparte, by Tiffany McAuley

Napoleon Bunnyparte creates stimulating, puzzle-like bunny toys that not only can be tossed and chewed but are also attached with compartments to hide treats. Besides toys, customizable treats and other bunny things, the store also makes sure that humans aren’t left out by selling must-have hoodies and home accessories. Bunny-themed, of course.

Extending the love for rabbits to the greater community, Napoleon Bunnyparte runs a special Bun For Bun program. For every toy purchased, another is donated to rescues nominated by customers.

“We have had the opportunity to visit some of these rescues in person, in cities like New York and Hong Kong,” founder Tiffany shares. “Hearing an entire room of shelter bunnies nibbling away at the toys we brought in is an amazing experience that we carry with us.”

safe rabbit toy
A bunny at the New York Animal Care Centre checks out a donated toy.

At home, Tiffany’s bunnies are Sophie and Chloé, two best bunfriends since Napoleon, whom her business is named after, crossed the Bridge. Outgoing by nature, Chloé is a therapy bunny at a children’s hospice. Sophie, who has head tilt since 2018, sees the world a little sideways but otherwise enjoys life as a spoilt bunny.

Although head tilt is sadly irreversible, Tiffany shares how important it is for humans to see the positive by understanding the bunny’s perspective. Unlike humans, bunnies don’t compare life before and after. They just move – or rather, hop – forward.

two rabbits
Sophie and Chloé

“You will always look back and think of the things you could have done better. [But] trust that you are doing the best you can with the knowledge you have in the moment.” For support, she suggests head tilt groups such as Help for Head Tilt Hoppers.

4. D.Fluff Lounge, by Dawn Yeo

Behind D.Fluff Lounge is professional groomer Dawn Yeo, who specializes in mobile grooming services for small animals. She gained her skills through courses at Angie’s Pets, where the founder is a long-established pet groomer in Singapore.

Dawn also offers boarding services in her home. Indeed, no other place better than a bunny-loving groomer who has 5 bunnies of her own! Dawn took in Poochie, Thumper, Ponyo, Tiara and Amos from previous owners when they were unable (or some, unwilling) to care for them anymore.

bunny group

Being able to interact with fluffy bunnies on a daily basis has its happy moments. For clients who genuinely believe in their bunnies’ welfare, sometimes a little help from experienced bunny owners is all they need. For Dawn, answering housecalls and visiting clients in person presents this opportunity.

“It is always nice when clients take my advice and help their rabbits improve their quality of lives and living spaces,” Dawn says.

But sometimes her job goes beyond D.Fluff Lounge. Dawn recalls how a former client contacted her in desperation when the two rabbits she had once handled fell into tragic states. The owner, not fully aware, had placed the rabbits in an unethical boarding place. The case was later covered by local bunny rescues, Bunny Wonderland and Bunny Binkies Club.

One of the owner’s remaining rabbits was left paralyzed from the incident. As part of her medical boarding service, Dawn cared for him and the bunny was nursed back to health after 2 to 3 months.

“Unfortunately, he was unable to get back full control of his limbs,” Dawn says, but focusing on the positive, she adds that the bunny managed to gain a healthy weight and was able to hobble around again. Due to this incident, two other rabbits were also successfully rescued and rehomed.

5. Bunnies That Lunch, by Jessica McCarthy

Bunnies That Lunch is a monthly subscription box filled with bunny toys and treats. A huge animal lover, founder Jess grew up with furry and small reptilian creatures alike. Alongside Bunnies That Lunch, she also runs two sister businesses, Doggies That Lunch and Kitties That lunch. She currently shares her life with two bonded bunnies, Turtle (CEO and Chief Snack Taster) and Tofu (renowned Professional Bunstructor).

Bunnies That Lunch CEO, Turtle.

What’s actually in a Bunnies That Lunch box changes every month. It’s a fun and exciting surprise that sparks curiosity even in non-bunny species (i.e. Furless Apes. Humans.) For bunny owners, it’s certainly a joy to see our beloved companions sniffing and exploring the new goodies, which can range from chew toys such as willow sticks to varied packages of hay, herbs and dry fruit treats.

Connecting with like-minded bunny parents on social media, Jess recalls how some customers have supported Bunnies That Lunch since the very beginning.

“One lady in particular, Caroline, she lives in France and has never missed a single box in the whole 4 years of Bunnies That Lunch. We speak regularly on Instagram and she has become a friend to me, which I think is really special.”

“As a small business, I really feel every order, every customer, means something to me,” Jess adds. “I am so truly grateful.”

Bunnies That Lunch brings the luxurious treasure box to bunny rescues as well. Every month, a large bundle of goodies and samples is put together and donated to a nominated charity. The latest beneficiary this month is Little Furries Rabbit Rescue.

A furry, lopped-ear customer with a Bunnies That Lunch box

It’s been published. Check out”10 Bunny Owners and Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses, Part 2″ here.

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5 Differences Between Nonprofits, Social Enterprises & Commercial Businesses

Compared to the conventional struggle and feet-dragging of work for work’s sake, social enterprises present a golden opportunity for both self-sustenance and fixing the world’s problems.

“Aren’t nonprofits and social enterprises kind of the same, then?” Some ask. “How are social enterprises different from the ‘normal’ businesses out there?”

Ah, here’s how.

5 Differences that Set Nonprofits, Social Enterprises and ‘Normal’ Businesses Apart

1. How money is earned/raised

Nonprofits (also known as charities or NGOs) receive funds through donations, grants and/or sponsorship.

Some partner with local businesses; profit made from the sales of an agreed item is donated to the nonprofit. Many generate additional income by selling a product or service (e.g. calendars, homemade cookies and customized accessories) as a sideline.

House Rabbit Society Singapore actively rescues rabbits who were abandoned in the streets. They also take in those who technically had owners, but were left severely neglected in corridors.

For its 2021 Calendar, HRSS featured Ambassador Bunny, Haru, a former corridor rabbit, on the cover.

On income generation, social enterprises operate on a business model, thus overlapping with commercial businesses. They sell products and services for revenue. It can be chocolate. A magazine. Or bags of fresh vegetables.

The fine distinction lies in their purpose in generating profit, which brings us to our next point.

Did you know? To be tax-exempted, fundraising activities have to be directly related to the nonprofit’s purpose.

Activities such as website or newsletter advertising are considered “unrelated business activities”. The nonprofit has to pay tax on this income.

2. Purpose of existence

Nonprofits and social enterprises share similar goals. They’re established to solve real-world problems. Pollution, food waste, animal welfare – just to name a few.

Commercial businesses identify what people want and they supply it. The system is straightforward: when people buy, the business makes money.

While social enterprises seek to gain profit, they do so to self-sustain and to maximize social good in the long-term.

They ask: “How can we sell products in a way that also make life better for the community and environment at large?”

For example, Feed Our Loved Ones (FOLO) is not the first organic farm in Malaysia. However, while its commercial competitors mass-produce and distribute to major supermarkets, FOLO operates on a farm-to-table membership system, encouraging families to learn about food and reconnect with nature.

Every day, FOLO collects nearly 3 tonnes of food waste from local restaurants and hotels. The farm’s composting process gives nutrients back to the land.

In 2016, I had the opportunity of interviewing one of its co-founders.

3. How profit is used

For nonprofits, earnings mostly go towards daily operations and maintenance. For instance, at least half of monthly expenses in animal rescues are on food and vet bills.

cat animal social enterprise non profit
Pumba, one of the rescue cats at Purrth.

Before their venture, most social entrepreneurs are already exposed to the financial needs of these charitable organizations.

Therefore, profit in social enterprises has two important functions.

One, reinvestment to sustain and grow (like usual businesses). Two, regular donations to lighten the financial burden of non-profits.

Here are how these animal-minded social enterprises are helping their nonprofit counterparts:

“For Animal Welfare, and Human Happiness” is the vision of The Cat Cafe Purrth, where 13 rescue cats call the cozy place home. The cafe serves light food and drinks in front and allows customers (who bought tickets prior their visit) to interact with the felines, who are housed within the shop.

Besides showcasing adoptables and assisting in cat rehoming, Purrth also raised more than $10,000 for its partner charity, Cat Haven, in 2019.

FLOAT (For Love of All Things) designs limited-edition apparel based on a charity’s cause. Every week, a portion of sales is donated to their partner charity. FLOAT’s latest charity partnership involves House Rabbit Society and Raptors Are The Solution.

animal social enterprise
FLOAT’s official website, showcasing the weekly donation goal and charity.

4. Volunteers or Employees?

Most work at nonprofits (grassroots, in particular) is carried out by volunteers. The few permanent staff may include the founders themselves and general caretakers who are hired to maintain the necessary day-to-day chores of the organization.

Unfortunately, many nonprofits, while doing worthwhile work, often face manpower shortages as there is no binding commitment for volunteers to contribute labor regularly. The organization solely relies on the goodwill, sense of responsibility and loyalty of the individual to the cause.

In this aspect, social enterprises face less of this issue as they operate on a business model. They hire employees and pay salaries. Staff are bound by traditional employment contracts.

5. Community Impact

One of my all-time favorite quotes summarize the impact of nonprofits (with regard to animal rescues) as follows:

Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.

Indeed, if there were no non-profits, social enterprises would not have evolved to what they are today.

On commercial businesses, the press-covered donations and awareness campaigns do gain some merit, but organizational revenue is often gained at the expense of ecological and social good.

The ugly irony: a corporate might run a successful CSR campaign for self-empowerment and safety in first world countries. Yet uses child labor and manufactures from sweatshops in third world countries.

In a social enterprise, employees are part of a mechanism that contributes to social good. Consumers are the source of sustenance. It is the ideal balance where profit meets purpose.

For instance, as a solution to eliminate plastic waste in consumer buying, zero waste stores are now a growing social business concept.

From handmade soap bars, feminine care products to fabric face masks, Minus Zero Waste sells a range of natural, reusable products. The shop recently started a mobile refill station; bringing zero waste buying to different regions of the city.

social enterprise zero waste
Bring your own container: Minus Zero Waste’s refill station for cleaning detergents and dish-washing liquid.

Which organization are you involved in? Is there a social enterprise in your city?

Perromart Review 2020: Buying Pet Supplies from Perromart

To all the dedicated pet owners out there: food for our animals make up nearly 90% of pet expenses. Agree? If you have 3 cats (like me), don’t even get me started on daily supplies such as cat litter.

Good thing we recently discovered Perromart, an online pet supply store. We saved a lot just by switching where we got our dog and cat supplies.

Here’s an honest review of my Perromart experience, so you’ll have a clear look into the site’s pros and cons before buying from them!

Note: I’m not affiliated with Perromart Malaysia/Singapore in any way. The purpose of this blog post is merely to share info with my fellow fur parents out there!

A Review of Perromart: Pros & Cons

Continue reading “Perromart Review 2020: Buying Pet Supplies from Perromart”

What Do Rabbits Eat? The Complete Guide on How to Feed Your Rabbit

If you’re a first time rabbit owner, learning what foods to feed your rabbit requires an entire mind reset. A lot of stuff we know about rabbits come from cartoons. And sadly, 99% of those facts are false.

Here’s a quick rundown.

Contrary to popular opinion …

  • Rabbits do not have carrots as their main food. Why? It’s like giving a kid 20 Chupa-Chups lollipops.
  • Those colorful “green for vegetables, orange for carrots” pellets? Unhealthy, bad and completely imbalanced. These unethical manufacturers are trying to rip off your money.
  • Rabbits eat vegetables – yes. Any vegetable under the sun? NO. Some vegetables are not suitable for rabbits. If they eat too much, it may cause digestive upset or worse, diarrhoea.

Many severe health problems of rabbits are caused by owners lacking the knowledge on what to feed them. As a result, they provide the wrong types of foods.

Rabbits have delicate digestive systems. It’s very important that you provide the correct foods in the correct amounts.

Continue reading “What Do Rabbits Eat? The Complete Guide on How to Feed Your Rabbit”

A Representation of Virtue in Les Misérables

Most people are familiar with the long-running West End production, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010, whereas some were first introduced to the tale through the 2012 film, which featured an ensemble cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.

Let’s go back to the origin of it all.

The oppressed and forgotten in society, Les Misérables is a historical narrative of heroism, justice, revolution and redemption. The original unabridged version consists of nearly two thousand pages and remains one of the longest novels ever written.

In this post, what I would like to explore is how virtue as a value of humanity is represented in Hugo’s work, drawing from incidents involving two side characters, Bishop Myriel and Sister Simplice.

Continue reading “A Representation of Virtue in Les Misérables”

Saudi Arabia: Poor irrigation practices is causing water scarcity

The following is an excerpt from my research article in 2018. The theme was “Water as a human right”. Featured image photograph by Tomasz Filipek on Unsplash.

Irrigation involves delivering water to crops in order to maximize crop production (Sentlinger 2018). Having an irrigation system is critical for sustaining agriculture as rainfall is seasonal, or even sparse, in many places (Rutledge et al. 2011).

Aquifers is a source where water is tapped for irrigation. Some aquifers replenish very slowly and therefore are considered a non-renewable resource (Wright 2017). An individual’s daily water intake of 2 to 4 liters, but the food we consume requires 1000 times as much water to produce (Water and food security 2014).

Continue reading “Saudi Arabia: Poor irrigation practices is causing water scarcity”

Transcript of Interview with Dr Lemuel Ng, Co-Founder of FOLO

Featured image photograph by Denise Lim.

This post includes the transcription of an interview conducted with Dr Lemuel Ng, co-founder of Malaysian social startup and organic farm, Feed Our Loved Ones (FOLO). From collecting local kitchen waste to upholding the farm-to-table movement by selling produce straight to consumers, the operation of the farm itself directly impacts the local community and contributes to social good.

I started home composting at the age of fifteen. In a way, that scrawny teenage girl wanted to make a difference by solving the kitchen and garden waste in her own home. I would become upset when my parents threw away fruit peels and dried leaves. At some point, I wondered if I wasn’t right in the head. Why was I composting and growing vegetables like a retiree – at fifteen years old?

In 2016, I visited FOLO with my classmates for a college assignment. This was how the interview came to be. I remember the enormous joy I felt when I saw the heaps of compost in their facility. The wonderful, earthy and slightly charred scent of ready compost! These were the people who were doing what I did on a much more massive scale. And they were right here in Johor Bahru (JB) – where I live.

Continue reading “Transcript of Interview with Dr Lemuel Ng, Co-Founder of FOLO”