Imagine walking into a café just to grab a drink, chill, or do some work, and while you’re at it, a kitty is purring and playing around—blissful, isn’t it? Well, cat cafes are just that, “themed cafes” with numerous cats you can play with or just enjoy their company. For the customer, the best part is that you don’t have to worry about litter scooping, cleaning after them, or any vet bills.
Cat cafes originated in Asia sometime in the late 20th century and have since gained popularity in many parts of the world. That said, various countries have varying regulations and restrictions regarding how to start a cat café. Some cat cafes require you to book a reservation online, whereas others do not and generally accept walk-ins.
Cat cafes charge a per-hour coverage which goes towards helping pay for the food and care of the furry friends you get to meet and play with. Some charge a complimentary entrance fee, while others sell food and drinks at a slightly higher price, which also helps in caring for the cats.
The cats you find at these cafes are mostly adopted homeless felines, which adds to the magic of the cat cafes—they hold the well-being of cats in high regard. So anytime you visit one of them, bear this in mind and enjoy the company of these furry friends.
How to Start a Cat Café
Whether you are a cat/feline enthusiast or not, starting a cat café is a noble idea. It is a grand business idea where you can mash up selling coffee, pastries, and other drinks, and you also get to charge your customers to play with the cats-which they will definitely enjoy. So, it’s a win-win for all.
Here are the steps on how to start a cat café:
1. Check Local and Safety Regulations
This is an essential step while establishing how to start a cat café. Ensure that you research all the local and safety regulations since they differ according to various jurisdictions. Fulfill all the necessary federal, state, and local requirements, including licenses and zoning permits.
Moreover, ensure that your establishment meets all the authorized health, food, and drug administration requirements. These requirements dictate how you should conduct the dining and food service areas for people and the cats and the number of patrons allowed in the café at any given time.
It’s crucial that you follow these regulations to make for a safe and welcome environment for your customers, employees, and cats.
2. Choose a Name and Location
Choosing a creative name and unique location for your cat café is essential as it is a key determinant of its success. Conduct your research diligently and identify the optimal accessible location, name, and business structure- whether sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company. Ensure you have all the necessary documents and records for registering a business.
Your cat café’s name is important when it comes to advertising or creating a web domain-choose something cheeky such as “The Purr-y Place.” Don’t forget, marketing is an important part of your success, and we’ll touch on this deeper in the next few sections.
3. Consider a Plan for Caring for the Cats
At this point, you have to create a feasible business plan that incorporates a plan for caring for the cats. You can opt to employ a full-time cat caregiver whose sole responsibility is looking after the felines: keeping up with their feeding schedules, vet appointments, grooming them, cleaning their shelters, and taking care of their vaccination requirements.
Tip: Insure your cats as well as your business right at startup. Business insurance covers your physical business and operations. Pet insurance protects your feline friends from illnesses that might require expensive treatment procedures.
Having a robust plan in place for the care and well-being of the cats is extremely important. When building partnerships with local rescues, you’ll need to be able to prove that you can adequately care and plan for anything that could arise.
Hiring a dedicated staff member or two to help you care for the cats and ensure the safety of all in your cafe may be something to consider as well.
Where do Cat Cafes get their Cats?
Most cat cafes adopt their cats from animal shelters and animal rescue groups in their community. Thus, when establishing your cat café, make an effort to create a good rapport with the local animal shelters and veterinarians who can point you in the right direction for felines who need adoption.
4. Choose a Menu, Pricing, and Hours of Operation
This step is crucial in creating a brand for your cat café and defining what your business is all about. The menu and pricing you create help you stand out from your competitors and shape the public’s perception. At this stage, you formulate a pricing policy: whether you will implement a cover charge for cat access or not, whether you’ll take reservations, walk-ins, or both.
That’s not all, you should list all the foods and drinks available and their types- pastries, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, salads, sandwiches, complimentary and unlimited coffee refills, etc. Plus, clearly stipulate the designated opening and closing times.
One thing to consider is to name your items cat-related names. Knowing your audience is part of running a successful business, and cat lovers are sure to love something like a Cat-amel pastry!
5. Create Safety Rules for Guests
Creating house rules and ensuring that all your guests adhere to them is an essential consideration when you want to start a cat café. It ensures that the guests and the cats are all safe. Some of the house rules you can set include:
- Sanitization upon entry
- All guests should cover their hot food and drinks
- Signing a waiver before interacting with kittens (Be careful as the cats have claws!)
- No feeding the cats unless guided by staff or given approved treats/food
- Children below a certain age should be monitored by their guardians at all times
- Treat cats kindly and gently-do not disturb them when sleeping
- Donations are appreciated and subject to tax deductions
6. Market the Business
At this step, after starting up your cat café, you should engage in a marketing strategy that can be conducted online via your website, where you post photos and encourage customers to subscribe to your café’s “meowsletter.” Other advertising options include paid advertising and other social media platforms. This will help you reach customers within your locality and potentially lead to sales and visits to your cat café.
For a local business such as a cat cafe, you should consider setting up a Google Business Profile. This is a powerful tool that will help you reach your local audience and gain reviews.
You’ll need to brand and market your cat cafe around your local area. Think about business cards, flyers, and most importantly, events.
Adoption events are a great way to gain new customers while also finding suitable forever homes for the cats themselves. Maybe your favorite customer has taken a liking to one of the cats and has a wonderful home that they can provide to the cat also.
While it may be sad to see one of the cats leave the cat cafe, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve helped the cat find a great home to spoil it and give it the best life imaginable!
You can even create other fun events at your business premise which are cat-themed such as lectures, cat yoga sessions, movie nights, or cat parent meet-ups.
You can use your Google Business Profile to showcase your event and have local searchers find out more about it.
One last great way to market your cat cafe is to offer discounts to frequent customers and members through loyalty programs. It’s a great way to keep customers coming back!
7. Open Your Business
Once you have met all these requirements, then you are ready to open up your cat cafe to the public! consider having a grand opening and getting some of your wonderful rescue kittens new, suitable homes. Don’t forget to have adoption applications on hand.
Best of all, enjoy yourself! Your hard work has paid off, and you’re making a difference in your community by helping cats and pairing them with wonderful forever homes. Congratulations!
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Cat Café?
The costs to start a cat café vary according to different dynamics that should be explicitly covered in your business plan. These factors include federal, state, and local business requirements, choice of location, tax deductions, and other legal requirements. It is best that you seek expert help when you choose to start up a cat café.
You can obtain funding from financial institutions, private investors, or state aid through grants.
Are Cat Cafes Safe?
Yes, cat cafes are very safe if you follow all of your local health and safety regulations. The felines in the cat cafes are safe to play with as they get regular vet check-ups, and are well-fed and cleaned.
You can also consider having posters or flyers in your cafe to provide to customers to ensure that their experience is safe and fun!
Start Your Very Own Cat Café Today
Done right, a cat café is a lucrative business opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs who also care very deeply about making a difference in their community. The best reward is seeing the smiles on the faces of new owners as they bring home their newly adopted feline friends!
Has this article helped you understand how to start a cat cafe? If it has, please find out the beginability of something new by reading more of our blog!