Here Are Some Great Tips On How You Can Start a Cat Cafe
Are you interested in starting a company with an unique animal? You should think about opening a cat café, which is a hybrid business that combines a coffee shop with a pet adoption facility. Cat café patrons pay an hourly cover charge in exchange for the opportunity to interact with cats while sipping lattes and eating baked goods. The world’s first cat café opened its doors in Taiwan in 1998, and the concept quickly gained popularity in Japan around the same time. Since then, the practice has spread around the world, with cat cafés popping up in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, among other places.
Here are a few of the procedures to take in order to establish your own cat café company.
Choose a Name for Your Cat Cafe
Everything from promotional materials to business cards to legal paperwork to leasing agreements to websites and social media accounts will reflect the name you pick for your cat café prominently. Consider that it is a very significant component of your company’s identity, so strive to select something memorable and distinctive. A quick online search for cat café names revealed a wide range of options, from the straightforward (The Cat Cafe) to the amusingly inventive (Crumbs and Whiskers).
Create a Business Plan
Everything from promotional materials to business cards to legal paperwork to leasing agreements to websites to social media accounts to signs will reflect the name you chose for your cat café prominently. If you want to make a lasting impression with your customers, attempt to find something distinctive and one-of-a-kind. From the extremely simple (The Cat Cafe) to the amusingly imaginative and original, a quick online search for cat cafe names revealed a wide variety of options (Crumbs and Whiskers).
Research Local Regulations and Restrictions
If you plan on keeping animals and producing food in the same region, it is critical that you be aware of any health rules that could apply. Depending on where you live, your city or county may require you to keep separate eating and cat access areas. Also be sure to check with your local authorities about any licenses or zoning permissions that may be needed for the project in question. They will also have the final say on how many people will be permitted into the café (how many patrons will be allowed in the cafe at one time).
Determine Your Model of Operation
The majority of cat cafés charge an hourly cover fee to visit the cafe and interact with the cats that are housed there. Some businesses use this strategy to provide customers with gratis beverages or light nibbles, while others charge a fee for refreshments. When a customer purchases food or drink at a cat café, a few establishments provide cat access at no additional cost. You’ll also need to decide if you’ll accept walk-in customers or whether you’ll use a reservation-based system for your business.
The majority of cat cafés are so popular that reservations are required, especially during peak hours. In addition, some café owners enable customers to hire out the entire room for private events.
Secure a Location
To visit the cafe and interact with the cats in residence, most cat cafes charge an hourly cover charge. In this model, some establishments provide customers with gratis beverages or light snacks, while others charge a fee for these items of food. When a consumer purchases food or drink at a cat café, a few establishments provide free cat access to customers. You’ll also need to decide if you’ll accept walk-in traffic or whether you’ll use a reservation-based system for your customers. As a result of the high demand for cat cafés, most of them need reservations, especially during peak hours.
Partner With Local Cat Rescue Organizations
Customers would appreciate it if they can apply to adopt the cats and kittens that they meet while visiting the cafe, and your company will benefit from being linked with rescue organizations in the area. Establish partnerships with local animal rescue organizations and shelters in order to fill your cat café with cats. Depending on the size of the café, you will most likely require between 10 and 15 cats on average. In addition, you should develop a working relationship with a local veterinarian who will do any required health tests or treatments for the cats.
Determine Menu and Pricing
Additionally, as previously indicated, you must pick what food and drink products will be available for purchase at the cafe in addition to choosing whether or not there will be a cover charge for admission. Will you solely provide alcoholic beverages? Will you be serving any alcoholic beverages at your establishment? Is it possible for you to provide light snacks, bakery goods, salads, and sandwiches? Will you be providing free or unlimited drink refills to your customers? Will you be preparing food on-site or bringing them in from other restaurants or catering companies?
Create a Website
A website is an essential component of any pet-related company’s marketing strategy. Spend the time necessary to create a high-quality website that includes an online reservation system, profiles of the cats currently residing at the cafe (complete with photos), an email newsletter sign-up button, links to your social media accounts, a blog, directions to your location, pricing information, and a store where customers can purchase branded merchandise. In addition, the website should have multiple high-quality photographs of restaurant dishes, the dining area, and the cat play places, among other things.
4 Things You Need to Know About Starting a Cat Café
The process of opening a CAT CAFÉ is more difficult than most people believe. In reality, it’s one of the most difficult companies to start since it’s a new concept, and as with any new concept, you have to educate people, including government authorities, in order to secure the appropriate permissions to operate the business. People have contacted me every week since I opened The Orlando Cat Café in September 2016 about creating a cat café in their community. Many of them have visited, fallen in love with the concept and want to replicate it, while others have heard about us and want to open a cat café in their hometown.
It might appear that ministering to kittens all day would be a simple task to perform. However, it is still a business, and as such, it must be operated in the same manner. In the event that you are considering starting your own cat café, here are four steps to get you started.
The presence of a strong restaurant partner as well as a strong animal partner is required even if everything else is perfect. In order to conduct our café operation, we have an operational agreement with Axum Coffee. The Animal League, a no-kill shelter in neighboring Groveland, FL, is in charge of everything cat-related at the Orlando Cat Café. There’s a lot more to it than just stuffing a bunch of cats into a room and praying for the best, though. This is why I rely on The Animal League to provide me with cats who have been properly socialized and will thrive in this sort of setting.
- Cats must be in good health and have all of their vaccines up to date.
- The success of Orlando Cat Café is heavily reliant on the support of strong partners.
- When it comes to our organization, we collect admission fees ($8 for adults and $4 for children) and sell items (mugs and T-shirts).
- On its half of the premises, the coffee shop pays rent, and we all contribute to the cost of utilities.
- The Animal League receives 100% of all adoption costs collected.
Lay the Groundwork
Cat cafés are a relatively new concept, and many people are unfamiliar with what they are and how they function. It is critical to begin by interacting with representatives from the local administration in order to get their support. It took the Orlando Cat Café 22 months to figure out how to handle the complexity of local, state, and federal regulatory requirements. The majority of that time was spent educating others about the notion. Almost without exception, the response of your local health department will be to refuse licenses if the words “cats” and “food” are spoken together.
Know Your Market
Given our advantageous location in Orlando, just five minutes west of Disney World, we benefit from a substantial tourism industry that accounts for a significant portion of our client base. Our clients are divided into three categories: those looking to adopt, those who like the atmosphere at the café, and visitors who are on vacation and long for their own cat back home. It has happened that some travelers have ended up adopting!
Build It Right
From the air conditioning to the ducting, we scrutinized every aspect of the building. The cat café is equipped with two different air conditioners: one for the feline play area and another for the coffee room. Cross-contamination is less likely to occur as a result of this. The coffee side of the establishment features a wide picture window that looks out onto the cat play area, allowing customers who adore cats but do not wish to interact with them to enjoy watching them play while sipping their coffee.
For safety considerations, there are no doors that open directly onto the street frontage at the end of the building.
Everything we did was done with the cats in mind, and we made every effort to ensure their well-being and safety. That is always our first and foremost goal – it is all about the cats!
Not Ready for a Full-Blown Cat Cafe?Try This Instead.
Knowing this information will help you understand why starting a cat café is more difficult than starting a typical pet company, owing to the many partnerships and the production of human food. You can still include parts of a pet café into your company – adoptable dogs enjoy hanging there as well — without breaking the bank. Here’s how it’s done: 1. Create a comfortable seating space. The Green Spot, located in Omaha, Nebraska, accomplished just that. Spot Lounge offers comfortable seats as well as a “coffee bar.” Documentaries such as “Pet Fooled” are broadcast on television.
- The space also functions as a waiting lounge, equipped with free Wi-Fi and a banner encouraging customers to “like” the store’s social media profiles on Facebook.
- Rescue organizations also host adoption events and meet-and-greets at the location.
- Provide a permanent home for pets in need of a new home.
- Tuesdays are puppy drop-off days at the local SPCA.
- “It definitely helps the dogs in foster homes receive more exposure,” says Nancy Guinn, the business’s owner.
- You’ve provided plenty of water and a variety of snacks for the animals.
- Customers may prepare their own coffee at the “coffee bar” in the Spot Lounge, which includes an automated machine, pods, and stir-ins.
- If you wish to sell alcoholic beverages, you should follow the example set by Shop Dog Boutique owner Ellyn Suga.
The key steps to start a cat cafe
For aspiring restaurateurs and fashionistas, finding internet resources that provide helpful information on how to open a restaurant or clothing store is quite straightforward. However, for those looking to open a cat café, the process is a little more difficult. We at The Business Plan Shop believe in supporting entrepreneurs that think outside the box, which is why we’ve developed a guide on how to establish a cat cafe to assist cat-loving cafe owners-to-be as they navigate the maze of starting a cat cafe.
Our top advice on how to launch a cat café and ensure its success cover everything from conducting market research to selecting a legal structure and collecting money for your venture.
The origins of the cat cafe concept
An euphemism for cat café, which is a cafe where customers may go to sip coffee or tea while being surrounded by cats that can be petted or fed. Despite the fact that the notion originated in South Korea, it has gained popularity in Japan. Because Japan is so densely populated, the dwellings are quite small, making it difficult for many individuals to have dogs at their residence. Cat cafés were born as a result of this, since they give a safe haven for cat lovers to enjoy the pleasures of cat company without the obligation of caring for their own cats on a permanent basis.
However, having a fashionable concept alone will not guarantee the success of a business, which is why it is critical to be organized and meticulously plan out every part of your cat cafe’s operations.
Starting a cat café: a commercially attractive concept
The establishment of a cat café, if done correctly, may ensure a high level of success. As a first benefit, this idea has a highly particular client base compared to that of a regular cafe – allowing you to differentiate yourself from competition by offering a one-of-a-kind concept to a very niche demographic. Because of this natural differentiation, you should be able to avoid direct rivalry with other cat cafés that are located in your immediate vicinity when you first open your cat café. The capacity to attract bigger groups of customers for a longer average visiting time is another financial benefit of cat cafes over regular cafes.
- Cat cafés, which are popular for hosting children’s birthday parties, family outings, and special celebrations with friends, are more prone to hosting huge groups of cat fanatics – resulting in a significant number of snacks and beverages being eaten, as well.
- In addition, starting a cat café is likely to attract folks (as is typically the case in Japan) who are looking for a relaxing day or even a place to work from their laptop.
- This results in more money spent on drinks.
- Many Japanese cat cafés demand an entrance fee in order to avoid this danger.
- Although the advantages outlined above might make launching a cat café appear to be a wise investment on paper, you must first ensure that there is a need for it in your area.
- Members of the public in nations where dogs are the most popular pets, such as Germany, may not find the cat café concept to be as appealing as it is in the United States.
The key is to target the proper clients while also clearly defining your business concept. Above all, undertake market research in the region where you intend to establish your business to ensure that there is a need for this sort of establishment on a local level before proceeding with your plans.
Intricacies related to operating a business with animals
As you might expect, the practicalities of opening a cat café are a little more difficult than those of opening a coffee shop, for example.
Insure your cats, and protect yourself from potential accidents
When you first open your cat café, you’ll want to make sure that your feline protégés are protected by purchasing insurance for them. For quite some time now, getting pet insurance has been rather mainstream, and as a result, there is an excess of policies to choose from, with pricing varying based on the guarantees offered. Because cats are the crowning glory of your company’s concept, we recommend that you invest in high-quality insurance protection for them. In addition, the cost of insurance varies depending on the age and breed of each individual cat.
Protecting your cat cafe from the hazards linked with their presence, such as incidents involving clients or probable damage to their equipment, will be essential.
When launching a cat café, you’ll want to make sure you’re protected by professional liability insurance, which will protect you in the case of any harm to clients, the cats themselves, or if any of the cats escape from the establishment.
The rules and regulations of starting a cat cafe
In order to operate a cat café with cats, you must conform to the Animal Welfare Regulations, which are specified in the Animal Welfare Act. This will entail having your facility inspected by an inspector to ensure that it is fit for the reception of animals, as well as acquiring a special license for your establishment. For further information, please see theAnimal Welfare Regulations, which may be found here. The decision to serve food comes with a number of standards that must be met in order to ensure the safety of those who will consume the meal.
It’s vital to remember that there are no financial costs associated with this process.
Upon completion of each inspection, you will be assigned a Food Hygiene Rating, which you may be required to post in public view depending on your location.
Writing the business plan to start your cat cafe
Within our tutorial on how to create a cat café, we’ve reached the point where we need to talk about the business strategy in more detail. Generally speaking, the business strategy is composed of two key components:
- It is a financial prediction that is intended to emphasize the predicted profitability of a firm as well as the initial funding requirement. This is a written section in which you describe in depth your project, the team you are working with, your business strategy, and your medium-term goals.
In order to acquire finance from a bank or possible investors, your business plan must be flawless, and you should spend some time perfecting it.
If you are not familiar with the process of developing business plans, online business plan software might be a fantastic answer for you. Using specialist software has a number of advantages, including the following:
- A complete set of instructions and examples for each section of the plan will assist you through each stage of the writing process. You might get ideas from business plan templates that have previously been developed. By allowing the program to handle the financial parts of your financial prediction, you can quickly and easily create your financial forecast. You will receive a professional-looking document that has been structured and is ready to be sent to your bank.
If you are looking for a solution of similar nature, you can sample our software for free by registering here.
Securing funding for a cat cafe
As we’ve seen above, it will need a large amount of money to establish a cat café from the ground up. Fortunately for you, there are a variety of funding options available. These are some examples:
- If you are trying to secure a loan from a bank or credit institution, you should keep in mind that it is not always simple to obtain a loan for company startup. Getting in touch with private investors, such as family and friends or angel investors A crowdfunding campaign, which is also an excellent strategy to get people talking about you
- Launching a social media campaign. State assistance for business creation in the form of a grant or low-interest loan is being sought.
Hopefully, you now understand everything there is to know about starting a cat café. We hope you found this article to be informative. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our staff. Also available at The Business Plan Shop
- In this section, you will find information about market research, business planning, and a coffee shop template, amongst other things.
How to start a cat cafe?
In this section, you can find information on market research, business planning, and a coffee shop template.
- Executive summary – a concise explanation of your concept and how you intend to flourish in your market. Name, logo, mission statement, business values, and aims of the organization are all included in the company description
- Market analysis is the process of researching and evaluating your market and competition. Organization — who will do what within your management team and personnel duties, as well as the regulations of the cat café
- What services and goods will you sell or offer, and at what pricing will you do so
- Marketing and sales strategies
- Information for investors
- Financial predictions for the first three years of business, as well as an estimate of the expenditures associated with opening
Cat cafe names and concepts
Will you sell books and operate a bookshop in the same vein as a cat cafe? Consider inviting everyone to come in and have coffee, tea, and pastries while sitting in comfortable armchairs. Your cat cafe’s name and idea should be strongly associated with one another. Here are some creative names for cat cafes to get you started:
- The Feline Good Cafe, Pretty Paws Tea and Coffee, Furry Friends Tea House, and The Neighborhood Cat Cafe are among the businesses that cater to cats.
When naming your cat café, draw inspiration from your favorite childhood pet or from one of the many cat-related stories that have existed throughout history. “Bastet Cafe” is a fantastic allusion to Egyptian mythology, which includes a deity who can transform into a cat.
Finding the right location
You might draw inspiration from a cherished childhood pet or from tales that have existed about cats throughout history when creating the name for your cat café. Bastet Cafe is a fantastic tribute to Egyptian mythology, which includes a goddess who can transform into a cat.
- For the name of your cat café, draw inspiration from your favorite childhood pet or from one of the many cat-related fables that have existed throughout history. “Bastet Cafe” is a fantastic allusion to Egyptian mythology, which includes a deity who can transform into a cat!
The expenses of starting a business vary greatly depending on the region and the level of competition in the area. When developing your business strategy, you’ll need to do a comprehensive analysis of your target market. This can assist you in determining the costs associated with establishing a cat café. The legal requirements for cat cafes might be complicated. Consider consulting with a local attorney who can assist you in understanding the laws that apply in your region.
Creating a legal entity is commonly used to refer to the process of formally establishing a firm. It might be as simple as obtaining a Tax Identification Number as a sole owner or as complex as forming a company. Depending on where you live in the United States, you’ll need to register your business as a legal entity with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as well as with your local county and receive a state business license. For the majority of firms, you’ll need to start by obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Depending on the structure of business, owners may be protected from liabilities and certain legal disputes.
- LLC – a hybrid between a partnership and a corporation, an LLC enables company owners to protect themselves and their investments. Incorporate as a S or C company, which comes with particular tax election possibilities
- This is not usual among small café owners. For those who are interested in operating a cat café as a nonprofit organization, the non-profit business model may be an alternative.
Register necessary accounts
Establishing yourself as a legal organization, and maybe as a corporation, will also need the separation of your company and personal financial accounts. You’ll most likely require the following items:
- Accounts for business banking
- Accounts for payroll administration or services
- Accounts with vendors and suppliers
- And other accounts. There are several different software options for managing and running your company
Consider the experience that each consumer will have when they walk through the door. What method will they use to pay? When they arrive, how will your employees seat them and which orders belong to which customers? A sophisticated POS, or point-of-sale system, would be the best choice in this case. A coffee shop point of sale system is ideal for starting a cat café. Incorporate your company name, and then utilize a single system for processing payments, monitoring goods, and controlling seats, and then save that information in a cloud-based point-of-purchase system.
- Collaboration with a local rescue or adoption agency may make a significant difference in the lives of those in your neighborhood.
- Explain how you might assist in marketing or providing support to your consumers who are considering adopting a child.
- Make sure you have a well-crafted proposal ready for these groups and officials to evaluate and consider before agreeing to collaborate with you.
- Your cat café is ready for business after you’ve completed all of the necessary procedures to get it up and running.
- Make certain that you employ a variety of marketing strategies to advertise your cat café.
- When preparing to open, keep the following in mind:
- Establish a strong social media presence and ensure that you have everything you need (POS system, appropriate equipment, etc.). Invite friends, relatives, and prominent members of the community to a soft opening
- Inviting folks to help you publicize your grand opening is a good idea. Activate people to engage in both the beverage and the cat-related aspects of the café.
Establish a strong social media presence and ensure that you have all you need (a POS system, the appropriate equipment, etc.). Make an invitation to your closest friends, family, and prominent community members for a soft opening. Inform others around you of your upcoming grand opening. Activate people to participate in both the beverage and the cat-related aspects of the café;
How To Start A Cat Cafe
Running a cat café is very different from running a traditional cafe. It entails not only offering high-quality food and beverages to guests, but also providing care for the cats who are housed within your establishment. For animal lovers, while this may entail a significant amount of additional effort, it may also be a highly gratifying experience. For example, workshops and certifications given by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and coffee courses if you intend to serve those types of beverages should be taken into consideration.
Providing Cat-Friendly Space
In a cat café, there are other concerns that must be taken into account, such as making sure that the environment is comfortable for both cats and clients. There are a variety of items available for the cats to enjoy, including litter boxes, toys, beds, and perches. Having these items on hand can also assist to prevent cats from getting onto clients’ tables or otherwise interfering with their meal preparation. You’ll also need to make sure that any medical treatment that cats may require is provided to them.
After all, it’s not ideal for a cat to be sick for an extended period of time, and customers are unlikely to feel comfortable with sick cats. The good news is that you may be able to work together with a cat shelter to cover the costs of care for your cat.
The fact that a cat café requires significantly more effort to maintain than other establishments should also be considered. Cats are living beings, which means that things like hairballs and litter boxes will need to be cleaned up as soon as they appear and on a consistent basis. After instance, if there are unpleasant sights and scents in the vicinity, consumers are unlikely to be enthusiastic about spending time there. Having a strategy for keeping cats away from the food preparation area may also be a wise investment.
Cat cafés are frequently used as a form of foster care for the cats who visit. The cats will be provided with food, water, medical care, and everything else they require by the cafe owners, but they will also be available for adoption. It is excellent that clients are able to relax in a pleasant environment while getting to know the kitties in this way. When they find a child they are interested in, they can submit an adoption application. A cat café may be a far more pleasurable environment for cats than the cages or other confined, often loud places that they may be forced to endure when in a shelter setting.
The Dirty Truth About Cat Cafes
Shutterstock Anyone who like cats will likely appreciate the concept of a little café where you can sit and drink coffee while sharing your table with a cute new furry companion. In principle, it’s a fantastic idea, but in fact, there are some very, very serious issues to consider – and they aren’t what you might expect. Cat cafés got their origins in Taiwan, according to the Smithsonian Institution. The first one opened its doors in 1998, and hundreds more have followed. They may be seen in a variety of locations across the world, with Japan being particularly enthusiastic about the notion.
Coffee with Cats keeps track of how many cat cafes there are throughout the world, and as of 2018, there were 255 feline-centric cafés in 37 different nations, according to the organization.
An unstable, terrifying environment
Shutterstock A little café where you can go for a cup of coffee and share your table with a cute new furry companion should appeal to anybody who enjoys cat-related entertainment. In principle, it’s a fantastic concept, but in practice, there are some very, very serious issues to consider – and they aren’t what you might expect. Cat cafés got their origins in Taiwan, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s website. Since the first one debuted in 1998, hundreds more have followed. Currently, they are spread over a number of nations, with Japan being particularly enthusiastic about the entire idea.
There are 255 feline-centric cafés in 37 different countries as of 2018, according to the website Coffee with Cats, which counts the number of cat cafes worldwide. A lot of coffee and a lot of cats, but sadly, not all of those cats are pleased with the way things are turning out for them.
When for-profits clash with non-profits
Photographs courtesy of Getty Images Some cat cafés collaborate with rescue organizations and shelters in an effort to place more cats in loving forever homes, although this collaboration has been marred by difficulties in the past. Take, for example, the TOT Cat Cafe in New York City. It was reported in The Star that the Toronto Humane Society removed its pets from the café because the cafe had a minimum purchase policy for anyone who wanted to visit the cats. Making individuals pay to meet with a prospective new family member, according to executive director Barbara Steinhoff, was against their policy, and there was another snag as well.
The Humane Society deemed it unethical to postpone an adoption for strictly commercial reasons, and this is where the potential for conflict arises.
They have to pay their staff (who are in charge of caring for the cats) and keep the lights on, and a for-profit business cannot always collaborate with a non-profit organization.
Welfare closures and abuse issues
Shutterstock While you may not have to walk your cat every day, they still want regular attention — especially when you have the dozen or so cats that you’ll find at most cat cafés. That’s a lot of litter that has to be changed, a lot of food bowls that need to be refilled, and a lot of water bowls that need to be cleaned. In this case, the disparity between expected and actual upkeep indicates that there have been some major feline welfare abuses that have been documented. One star was awarded to Cats, Cakes, and Coffee in Leicester, England, for its cleanliness in 2015.
According to the BBC, the owner said it was merely a paperwork issue, but the local council took action after receiving multiple complaints about foul odors and sad-looking animals in the area.
Cats who had not been neutered were reproducing, and the majority of them — even the old — were unwell.
The potential for disease and illness
Shutterstock Another issue with housing so many cats in such a small space is that if one of them becomes ill, the entire group becomes ill as a result. San Antonio Cat Cafe was raided by the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services in 2018, and two cats were rescued from the establishment. The remaining 54 cats were ordered to be quarantined by the court. The most serious concerns were ringworm (which can certainly be transmitted to people) and FIP, which is a disease of the gut that is typically deadly.
When a former employee reported four cats had died during her time there — including Decoy, who had been left in the public area in the days before he died — it sparked an inquiry into the facility’s policies and procedures.
Associated Press of Asia Coconuts wrote about a cat cafe in Bangkok that had some significant health breaches going on, which they found out about.
No one was shocked when it was revealed that the proprietor had already been in problems for running another cat café where seven cats died from various ailments. Fortunately, this time, no one was astonished.
The cats bred for cafe life
Shutterstock Cat cafe supporters frequently refer to the possibility of adoption as one of its positive attributes, and it’s fair to say that anything that helps a cat find a secure and loving permanent home is a good thing in our opinion. According to the American Society of Cat Professionals, around 3.2 million cats wind up in shelters every year, with approximately 860,000 of them being killed. That’s a tragic statistic, and it’s even more so when you realize that there are a lot of cat cafés that rely on breeders for their supply, as is the case in this case.
Several outlets, including The Skinny, criticised them for it, stating that no respectable cat café should support breeders and that obtaining cats in this manner indicates that they are completely committed to utilizing animals as a source of revenue.
A cat café in New Zealand, Fancy Meow, claims to be the city’s first purebred-only cat cafe, but they also facilitate “adoptions.”
It’s the Department of Health’s worst nightmare
Shutterstock Cat cafés have been slow to arrive in the United States, and it’s understandable why: they’re basically the Department of Health’s worst nightmare. When the Washington Post looked into the challenges that potential cat cafés faced in the United States, they discovered that there were several restrictions and regulations that applied to a facility that served food and drink while also housing a dozen or more animals on the premises. It took months for cat cafes and the Department of Health and Human Services to reach an agreement, and essentially, a single cat café must be divided into two different areas: one for food and another for the cats.
The number of cats is determined by animal control and the Humane Society, whereas the number of people is determined by the fire department.
You get the gist of it.
There’s a huge amount of drama
Shutterstock When you start looking into cat cafés, you’ll discover that they’re really troublesome for yet another reason. In their immediate vicinity, there always appears to be a lot of drama going on. The reason for this is that shelters are quite divisive. Some believe they are a terrific method to socialize cats and get them adopted, while others believe they are harsh and stressful environments for the cats. Consider the Purr Cat Cafe in Boston, for example. They were investigated for animal cruelty before they ever opened their doors, and their scheduled opening date was repeatedly postponed.
If that wasn’t awful enough, there was a peculiar social media backlash that went over Facebook and even gained followers on Reddit as a result of the incident.
Animal rescue may be a contentious topic, and cat cafés can be a natural extension of that discussion.
Signs a cat cafe is done right
Shutterstock Still interested in stopping by a cat café for a cup of coffee and some feline cuddles? To ensure that you are entrusting your business to responsible proprietors who actually care about the cats under their roof, what should you check for are the following characteristics. The Dodo believes they can be beneficial, but emphasizes that the cats should be provided with the resources they need to ensure that any contact takes place on their terms: they should always have a safe place to hide and get away from visitors if they are feeling overwhelmed.
A cat café with mixed-breed cats and cats ready for adoption, according to the Japan Times, is an indication that the cats’ wellbeing comes first, at least on the surface level.
The existence of senior, healthy cats is also a positive indicator, since it indicates that they are not euthanizing older, more difficult-to-care-for cats in favor of kittens.
When done incorrectly, it may be quite dangerous.
7 Steps To Opening Your Own Cat Cafe
So you want to create a cat café, don’t you? I believe I speak for the majority of cat cafe operators when I say that we receive a large number of inquiries from people who are interested in learning more about how to start their own cat café. And, to be honest, we had a lot of questions ourselves when we decided to launch CatCraft in the first place. Now that we are reaching the end of our first four months in company, I’d like to share some of the lessons we’ve learned so far. Even if you have no interest in starting your own cat café, you may find it interesting to learn about what goes on behind the scenes during the entire procedure.
1. Get involved with a rescue or shelter as a volunteer (and give it some time)
We would not be doing this right now if Andrew and I did not have the experience we had with the wild mama cat Cali while we were back in Atlanta (you can read more about that event here). Until I became engaged in volunteer cat rescue work, I had no idea the full extent of the misery that may occur when cats are left to fend for themselves and/or are not spayed or neutered. To be quite honest, it would have been much easier for us both to simply ignore the situation and convince ourselves that we couldn’t possibly do anything significant to assist in its resolution.
As a result, we have all been formed with unique abilities, and each of us has a unique heart that is ignited by what speaks directly to our hearts.
Your project, your service, your calling are all unique to you.
Alternatively, you may feel motivated to establish your own non-profit organization, as several cat cafés have done. In any case, you will receive confirmation as to whether or not you are on the correct route.
2. Do your business homework
Is it necessary for you to be categorized as a for-profit corporation or as a 501c3 organization? Whatever you want to accomplish and how much monitoring or control you want to delegate are two important considerations.
- What is your unique selling proposition? Who exactly are you attempting to serve? What is your vision for the future?
If you have an uncompromising vision of your future and believe in it 100 percent, the lengthy road ahead will be lot simpler to navigate. Do your study and start gathering probable operational expenditures. Then figure out what resources you’ll need to have access to in order to get your business up and running, and then how you’ll keep it going.
3. Leverage experts whenever possible
Not to say that it hasn’t occurred, but I’m not aware of any cat café entrepreneurs who have had a particularly simple time finding commercial space for their establishment. You may eat, sleep, and breathe the concept of the cat café, but I’m here to tell you that the great majority of people still have no idea what it is or what it is supposed to be. Take the time to put together a presentation that is succinct, easy to understand, and includes clear pictures. You are not need to include financial information, but you should provide a general outline of your company concept.
We decided to engage with a commercial broker since neither of us had any prior experience with commercial leasing, and I didn’t want to enter into a legally binding arrangement with any gaps in my understanding.
Before you sign any contract, consult with an attorney to analyze what you are about to commit to and advise you on any issues you may want to negotiate with the landlord before signing the contract.
As an illustration…
- No, I’m not saying it hasn’t occurred, but I don’t personally know any cat café proprietors who have had a difficult time finding commercial space for their establishment. You may eat, sleep, and breathe the concept of the cat café, but I’m here to tell you that the great majority of people still have no understanding what it is or what it is supposed to do. Consider devoting some time to creating a presentation that is brief, easy to understand, and includes compelling pictures. However, you should provide a broad outline of your company plan, without going into financial specifics. Be professional and make this offer to any landlord who is leasing space in which you are interested in leasing space. We decided to engage with a commercial broker since neither of us had any prior experience with commercial leasing, and I didn’t want to enter into a legally binding arrangement with any gaps in my knowledge. As a result, you shouldn’t rely on your broker to look out for every one of your interests – their job is to assist you in finding property that is appropriate for your needs and in convincing the landlord’s broker that your business proposition has value (note: you may not need to work with a broker to find the right space
- It all depends on where you want to be located and what is most common/acceptable in that area). Make sure you have an attorney analyze any contract you are considering signing before you sign it. An attorney can advise you on any terms you may want to discuss with the landlord before finishing your agreement. The best I could do was maintain my composure. In this case, consider the following:
Despite the fact that we had the assistance of a broker and an attorney, we still ran into a number of problems with our lease, and there are a number of things I would do differently if I had to do it all over again. The same may be said for the permission procedure with local and state government agencies and organizations. In order to serve any food or beverage that is not pre-packaged offsite, you will almost certainly have to deal with the state health department in your jurisdiction. Do you want to provide alcoholic beverages?
Many city building departments will not agree to consider food service plans unless the state health agency has either approved them or is examining them at the same time as the local building department.
Despite the fact that a cat café had been in operation in downtown San Diego for several years, I continued to request meetings with the San Diego Department of Environmental Health, as well as representatives from the cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Vista.
Furthermore, bear in mind that every time you submit your plans for formal approval with the city or state, you will be required to pay a fee – and the costs are not inexpensive. As a result, have your ducks in a row well before you submit your proposal for approval.
4. Check your compass
It’s important to remember the following if you’re even somewhat close to signing a lease and developing plans for the construction or remodeling of your rented space: The same is true for almost every decision you’ll make in your life: there are generally a few of options that will show themselves. Whichever door you select will have its own set of implications, as would any other choice you make. I’ll refer to these doors in the following ways for the sake of this blog post: Even if the “Easy” approach may be inexpensive, and the “Cheap” way may be simple, none of these may be the “Right” way.
After a while, it became increasingly frustrating that we were devoting so much time and money to complying with “the rules,” while other businesses appeared to have gotten away with breaking them (a fun game for those of you in San Diego County – start tracking how many coffee shops actually have the required sneeze guards around their espresso machines and bean grinders).
In our case, we felt it was critical to follow the rules, even if it meant foregoing additional funds or something else that we desired, because the potential consequences of not receiving our building permit, delaying our opening date, or worse – running the risk of being shut down during future inspections – were too great a threat to our overall cause to ignore.
5. There will be delays
This is something you must accept sooner rather than later if you want to have more sleep, more hair, and better general health in the future. I don’t recall how many delays we had, but I do recall visiting something like 24 houses in four separate municipal jurisdictions, putting bids on six properties, and going into talks on two properties over the course of an 11-month period. We signed our lease in May of 2018, but the architectural and food service designs weren’t finished until July of that year.
The city plan check took six weeks, and we had to resubmit to them as well as the health department because of our second submission to them.
Introducing the Foster Cat Lounge – BeforeAfter Once the building was up and running, we went through 5 or 6 construction schedule adjustments due to material delays, subcontractors not measuring accurately the first time, or anything indicated on the drawings that had to be changed once it was constructed.
But we were out of time and money — rent had to be paid, and more importantly, cats were waiting for homes – so we headed to the races with our fingers crossed and our trousers on fire. Coffee Shop — Prior to and after
6. Cats are not widgets
The operation of an espresso machine is rather straightforward. When used properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, it performs exactly as intended (unless you have a really fancy, really expensive, sports car of an espresso machine). The behavior of cats will never be completely predictable, no matter how carefully you adhere to the absolute best standards of cat ownership. You will spend the great majority of your time ‘wack-a-mole’ with numerous unanticipated scenarios pertaining to the health and well-being of the cats, which will require you to be creative (as you should if your heart is in it for them).
Everybody is happy and relaxed one day; however, the next day, three children are sick, one is beginning a fight with the new guy, and another has decided to pee on the beautiful rug you just bought.
Which brings me to…
7. You’ll need good people
Unless you are capable of accomplishing three to five tasks at the same time, having eyes on both sides of your head, and being in two places at the same time, you will require the assistance of a group of people. We receive a lot of enquiries from people who want to know if they may volunteer for us. What to do about hiring staff or recruiting volunteers will depend on your organization’s classification/license as well as the rules of the state in which you live. For example, if the state of California determines that you have non-compensated employees performing work that hired laborers could perform equally well, the state might impose a monetary punishment on you.
We are really fortunate to have wonderful personnel working both behind our coffee bar and in the kitty lounge (you can meets some of themhereandhere).
We would not be able to deliver the experience we wish to present to the cats in our care and the visitors that come to support us if it weren’t for each and every one of these individuals.
Bonus: Ready fire aim
Finally, I’ll say this: Timing will never be quite perfect. There will never be a perfect set of circumstances. ‘Just do it!’, like the Nike tagline exhorts us to do. Occasionally, it is necessary to just begin the task and make course corrections along the way. We are really appreciative for the assistance we have received from our families, our staff, our vendors, our rescue partner, and everyone else who has helped us achieve our goal.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to post a comment here or to come up to me or Andrew at the café on your next trip.