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How to Start a Cat Café Business

Cat Cafe Business

A cat café is a unique type of business that combines a coffee shop or café with a space for cats. The concept originated in Taiwan and has since gained popularity in many countries around the world.

In a cat café, customers can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while interacting with resident cats. Cat cafés typically offer a menu of coffee, tea, and light snacks, much like a regular café. Some cat cafés may also serve pastries and other refreshments.

Cat cafés have become popular for their relaxing and enjoyable atmospheres, and they cater to people who love cats but may not be able to own one due to various reasons, such as allergies, housing restrictions, or travel commitments.

Additionally, cat cafés can promote animal welfare and adoption, as they often provide a temporary home for cats in need of loving families.

Steps on How to Start a Cat Café Business

  1. Conduct Market Research

Conducting thorough market research is crucial for the success of any business, including a cat café business. Market research helps you gather valuable insights about your target audience, competitors, industry trends, and potential demand for your services.

You should start by clearly identifying the demographic and psychographic characteristics of your target customers. Consider factors such as age, gender, income level, interests, and preferences.

Determine whether you will cater to individuals, groups, families, or specific events like corporate gatherings or special occasions.

Research other cat café businesses in your local area or any nearby locations. Understand their strengths, weaknesses, pricing strategies, the variety of services they offer, and their target market. Identify gaps in the market or potential opportunities where you can differentiate your business.

Conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups with your target audience to understand their preferences, expectations, and pain points related to a cat café experience.

Ask about their willingness to pay, favorite pastries and other refreshments, desired amenities, and how often they would attend such café.

Evaluate the overall viability of your cat café business concept. Calculate startup costs, projected revenue, and potential return on investment. This will help you assess the financial feasibility of your venture.

Before launching your cat café business on a large scale, consider running a pilot program or hosting a few test events. This will allow you to gather feedback, fine-tune your offerings, and make necessary adjustments based on real-world experiences.

a. Who is the Target Market for Cat Café Business?
  • Cat Lovers and animal enthusiasts
  • College students and young adults looking for a unique and relaxing study or hangout spot
  • Professionals and office workers
  • Tourists or travelers who want to experience something different in a new city
  • Parents looking for a family-friendly and unique outing with their children
  • Couples, singles, or social groups looking for a unique and enjoyable experience.
  • People looking for the therapeutic benefits of interacting with animals
  • Cat adopters.
b. Is Cat café Business a Profitable Business?

A cat café business has the potential to be profitable, but success and profitability depend on various factors, including market demand, competition, pricing strategy, operational efficiency, and effective marketing.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

No, there are no existing niches when it comes to the cat café business.

d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • Meow Parlour – New York, NY
  • The Cat Cafe – San Diego, CA
  • Crumbs & Whiskers – Washington, D.C.
  • KitTea Cat Lounge – San Francisco, CA
  • Denver Cat Company – Denver, CO
  • The Dancing Cat – San Jose, CA
  • La Gattara Cat Lounge – Tempe, AZ
  • Koneko – New York, NY
  • Purringtons Cat Lounge – Portland, OR
  • Mauhaus Cat Cafe – Maplewood, MO
  • Cat Town Cafe – Oakland, CA
  • The Charming Cat Cafe – Chicago, IL
  • Mewsic Kitty Cafe – Philadelphia, PA
  • Blue Cat Cafe – Austin, TX
  • The Scratching Post – Cincinnati, OH
  • El Gato Coffeehouse – Houston, TX
  • The Catcade – Chicago, IL
  • Java Cats Cafe – Atlanta, GA
  • Neko: A Cat Cafe – Seattle, WA
  • The Cat’s Meow Cafe – Annapolis, MD.
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for Cat Café Business?

Yes, there are often county and state regulations as well as zoning laws that cat café businesses in the United States must comply with.

These regulations can vary depending on the specific location and jurisdiction, and it is important for cat café owners to research and adhere to local laws and requirements.

Cat cafés must adhere to health and safety standards to ensure the well-being of both the cats and customers. These regulations may include cleanliness and hygiene standards, as well as protocols for handling food and beverages in the presence of animals.

Many states and counties have specific regulations governing the welfare of animals in businesses like cat cafés. These may include rules about housing, veterinary care, socialization, and more. Staff who handle the cats may need special training and certifications to ensure they know how to properly care for the animals.

Zoning laws dictate where certain types of businesses can operate. Some areas may have restrictions on where businesses involving animals can be located. Compliance with building and fire safety codes is important to ensure that the physical space is safe for customers and animals.

Cat café owners may need to obtain various permits and licenses to operate legally, such as a food service license, animal care permit, or business license. Cat café owners typically need liability insurance to cover potential incidents involving customers or resident cats.

Some jurisdictions may have noise regulations that can affect a cat café, particularly if it’s in a residential area. Proper disposal of waste generated by the cats is essential, and regulations may address this aspect of the business.

f. Is There a Franchise for Cat Café Business?

Yes, there are franchise opportunities for the cat café business and some of them are:

  • Kitty Café Franchise
  • Catfé Lounge Franchise
  • Cat-Feine Franchise
  • Purr-fect Blend Café Franchise
  • Meow Magic Café Franchise
  • Cuddle & Coffee Cat Café Franchise
  • Feline Friends Coffee & Kitties Franchise
  • Paws & Whiskers Café Franchise
  • Kitty Kafé Franchise
  • Whisker’s Delight Cat Café Franchise.
g. What Do You Need to Start a Cat Café Business?
  • Business Plan
  • Legal Structure
  • Location
  • Health and Safety Regulations Compliance
  • Zoning Approval
  • Licensing and Permits
  • Cat Supplies and Housing
  • Experienced Staff
  • Insurance
  • Food and Beverage Service
  • Marketing and Branding
  • Initial Capital and Funding.
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

When looking to start a business, before you can begin to file the necessary documents with the constituted authorities or start your website, it is necessary that you come up with a name that you will be recognized with.

It is essential that the name you come up with can easily be pronounced, is unique and easily memorable. Some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for a cat cafe are;

Creative Cat Cafe Name ideas
  • Sunny Side® Cat Café, LLC
  • Happy Hour® Cat Café, LLC
  • Benita Miles© Cat Café, Inc.
  • Jessica Blaise® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Sharon McLauren® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Green Field™ Cat Café, LLC
  • Goerge Town© Cat Café, LLC
  • Sonita Martins® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Jacinta Garfield® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Dinah Philips™ Cat Café, Inc.
  • Furr Group™ Cat Café, LLC
  • Red Rose© Cat Café, Inc.
  • Sherly Dollars® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Tonia Allen™ Cat Café, LLC
  • Zina Adolphus© Cat Café, Inc.
  • Bella Bennie™ Cat Café, LLC
  • Felicia Michael® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Joe Jayden™ Cat Café, LLC
  • Blue Riverside® Cat Café, Inc.
  • Wonder Land© Cat Café, Inc.
  1. Register Your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for Cat Café Business?

The ideal business structure for a cat café company is determined by a variety of factors, including the size of the company, the number of owners, the level of personal liability the owners are ready to accept, and the tax consequences of the various business structures.

However, we normally recommend a limited liability company structure. An LLC is a hybrid corporate form that provides the flexibility of a partnership while also providing its owners with limited liability protection.

An LLC can have one or more owners, and the owners are not personally accountable for the debts or liabilities of the business. This business form is frequently used for small to medium-sized organizations.

b. Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Start the Cat Café Business?
  • Business License
  • Food Service License
  • Animal Care Permit
  • Health Department Permit
  • Zoning and Land Use Permit
  • Retail Sales Permit
  • Signage Permit
  • Fire Department Permit
  • Building Permit (if renovating or constructing a new space)
  • Alcohol Beverage License (if serving alcoholic beverages)
  • Music and Entertainment License (if offering live music or entertainment)
  • Special Events Permit (for certain promotions or events).
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Start the Cat Café Business?

You don’t need any special certifications to start a cat café business.

e. What Documents are Needed to Start the Cat Café Business?
  • Business Plan
  • Business License Application
  • Food Service License Application
  • Animal Care Permit Application
  • Health Department Inspection Reports
  • Zoning Approval Documentation
  • Lease or Rental Agreement for the Property
  • Building Plans and Blueprints (if applicable)
  • Menu and Pricing List
  • Insurance Policies
  • Employment Contracts or Agreements
  • Vendor Contracts
  • Marketing and Advertising Materials
  • Financial Projections
  • Business Registration and Tax ID Documents.
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

For a cat café business, you may need a trademark and copyright, but a patent is typically not applicable. Consider obtaining a trademark to protect the name, logo, or any distinctive branding associated with your cat café business. This will prevent others from using similar marks that could cause confusion among customers.

Copyright protection may apply to original creative works, such as instructional materials, artwork, or promotional materials used in your cat café business. It grants you exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display those works.

  1. Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start Cat Café Business?

The cost required to start a cat café business may vary significantly, but you can budget as low as $120,000 to as much as $500,000 to start your cat café business.

b. What are the Costs Involved in Starting a Cat Café Business?
  • Business Registration Fees – $750.
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits – $1,300.
  • Marketing, Branding, and Promotions – $2,000.
  • Business Consultant Fee – $2,500.
  • Insurance – $1,400.
  • Rent or lease – $80,000
  • Other start-up expenses like commercial satellite TV subscriptions, stationery ($500), and phone and utility deposits ($2,800).
  • Operational Cost (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al) – $45,000
  • Equipment and start-up inventory – $65,000
  • Store Equipment (cash register, security, ventilation, signage) – $1,750
  • Website: $850
  • Opening party: $3,000
  • Miscellaneous: $3,000
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Starting the Cat Café Business?
  • The size and type of the cat café business
  • The choice of locations
  • The required licenses and permits
  • The type of additional service offerings
  • The cost of hiring and paying a business consultant and attorney
  • The cost of branding, promotion, and marketing of the cat café business
  • The cost of furnishing and equipping the cat café business office facility
  • The cost of the insurance policy covers
  • The cost of registering the business
  • Cost of recruiting and training your staff
  • The cost of the purchase and customizing of uniforms, shoes, and caps for your employees
  • The cost for the grand opening of the cat café business
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility? If YES, How Much Will It Cost?

No, it is not compulsory to build new facilities for your cat café business, you just need a budget-friendly café, studio, or bar to start the business.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses of the Cat Café Business?
  • Cat Care Costs
  • Food and Beverages
  • Staff Salaries and Benefits
  • Rent or Lease Payments
  • Utilities (electricity, water, gas)
  • Insurance Premiums
  • Cleaning and Sanitization Supplies
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Licensing and Permit Renewals
  • Veterinary Care for Cats
  • Waste Disposal Fees
  • Repairs and Maintenance Costs.
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Chief Executive Officer (Owner) – $65,000 per year
  • Café Manager – $55,000 per year
  • Veterinary Consultant- $53,000 per year
  • Animal Care Specialist – $42,000 per year
  • Barista/Café Staff – $40,000 per year
  • Administrative Staff – $35,000 per year
  • Customer Service Representative – $32,000 per year
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start the Cat Café Business?
  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café, Inc. is a unique and innovative establishment located in Cincinnati, Ohio, that offers a delightful fusion of traditional café experience with the warmth and charm of our resident cats.

Our café provides a serene and inviting atmosphere for cat enthusiasts, families, and individuals looking to unwind and connect with our friendly feline companions.

Cincinnati, Ohio, is a vibrant and pet-friendly community with a growing number of cat lovers and animal welfare advocates. Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café, Inc. taps into the city’s love for cats and its appreciation for unique, experiential businesses.

Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café, Inc. is more than just a café; it is a place where the love for cats and a great cup of coffee come together. We aim to create a memorable and heartwarming experience for our customers while promoting the welfare of our feline friends.

b. Products and Service
  • A cozy café serving premium coffee, tea, and delectable snacks.
  • A comfortable lounge area where visitors can relax, socialize, or study.
  • A designated space for our resident cats, complete with cozy cat houses, scratching posts, and play areas.
  • Opportunities for cat adoptions in partnership with local animal shelters.
  • Regular events and activities, such as cat yoga and themed gatherings.
  • A charming gift shop offering cat-themed merchandise.
c. Mission Statement

“At Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café, Inc., our mission is to provide a haven where people can savor the perfect cup of coffee, enjoy delectable treats, and connect with the therapeutic presence of our resident cats.

We are dedicated to promoting the welfare of these beloved animals, facilitating cat adoptions, and creating a welcoming space where the community can unwind, learn, and share the joys of feline companionship.”

Vision Statement:

Our vision at Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café, Inc. is to be the premier destination for cat enthusiasts, a leader in animal welfare advocacy, and a cherished part of Cincinnati’s cultural landscape.

We envision a world where our café serves as a platform for education, compassion, and the celebration of the unique bond between humans and cats.

d. Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives of the cat café business are to provide a fun and relaxed atmosphere that caters to people who love cats but may not be able to own one due to various reasons, such as allergies, housing restrictions, or travel commitments.

e. Organizational Structure
  • Chief Executive Officer (Owner)
  • Café Manager
  • Veterinary Consultant
  • Animal Care Specialist
  • Barista/Café Staff
  • Administrative Staff
  • Customer Service Representative.

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
  • Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café offers a distinctive and engaging concept that sets it apart from traditional cafes, attracting cat lovers and enthusiasts.
  • The café fosters a sense of community by promoting cat adoptions and supporting local animal shelters, which resonates with customers who value animal welfare.
  • The presence of cats creates a soothing and stress-relieving environment, providing a unique selling point for visitors.
  • In addition to café sales, cat adoptions, merchandise, and special events provide diverse income sources.
  • Cherlyn Smith™ Cat Café has a dedicated team with expertise in café management, animal care, marketing, and veterinary consultation.
  • Space constraints may limit the number of customers and cats that can be accommodated at any given time.
  • The café’s success relies on the health and behavior of the resident cats, which can be unpredictable.
  • Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment with the presence of cats can be a constant challenge.
  • The costs associated with cat care, food, and health checks can be significant.
  • The potential to expand and open additional locations in Cincinnati and other cities with a demand for unique experiences.
  • Collaborate with local businesses, organizations, and shelters to host special events and workshops, attracting a broader audience.
  • Increase revenue through the sale of cat-themed merchandise and products.
  • Develop programs that educate visitors about responsible pet ownership and cat behavior.
  • Changes in health, safety, or animal welfare regulations could impact the café’s operations and costs.
  • The emergence of similar businesses or cafes in the area could reduce market share.
  • During economic recessions, consumers may reduce discretionary spending on café visits and adoptions.
  • Health-related issues, such as allergies or zoonotic diseases, could negatively impact visitor numbers.
b. How Do Cat Café Companies Make Money?

Cat café companies generate revenue through various channels. Their primary income sources include café sales, where customers purchase coffee, tea, snacks, and merchandise. Some cat cafés charge an entry or hourly fee to spend time with the resident cats.

Additionally, cat adoptions provide income when customers choose to adopt a cat during their visit. Cat-themed merchandise, such as apparel, toys, and accessories, can be sold to enthusiasts. Events, workshops, and collaborations further boost earnings.

Successful cat café businesses balance these revenue streams, combining a love for felines with a sustainable business model.

c. Payment Options
  • Credit and debit cards
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay and Google Wallet
  • Gift cards and store credit
  • Installment payments
  • Cash on delivery of services.
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
Sales Strategies:
  • Focus on high-quality coffee, tea, and snacks to ensure a positive café experience, which will encourage repeat visits.
  • Create loyalty programs for regular customers, offering discounts or special privileges to encourage repeat business.
  • Allow customers to book time slots online, ensuring that space is available and reducing wait times.
  • Organize cat-related events, such as cat yoga, adoption fairs, or cat care workshops, to attract a broader audience and increase bookings.
  • Actively promote cat adoptions, offering information about the cats’ personalities and backgrounds to encourage visitors to provide permanent homes.
Advertising Strategies:
  • Utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your café’s unique atmosphere, cats, and special events. Share user-generated content and engage with customers.
  • Optimize your online presence for local searches by creating a Google My Business profile and ensuring accurate information on review sites and directories.
  • Develop a blog or newsletter sharing cat care tips, café updates, and stories about your resident cats to engage and inform your audience.
  • Build an email list to send out promotions, updates, and special offers to loyal customers.
  • Collaborate with local businesses, pet-related organizations, and animal shelters to cross-promote events and services.
  • Attend local events, sponsor animal-related causes, and participate in community activities to build brand awareness and goodwill.
  • Use flyers, brochures, and local magazines to reach potential customers in your vicinity.
  • Partner with local influencers, especially those with a passion for animals or a significant following, to help promote your café.
  • Encourage customers to refer friends and family by offering discounts or other incentives.
  • Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews.

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for Your Product/Service?

The cost of visiting a cat café can vary depending on the location, the services offered, and the duration of the visit. Here are some common pricing structures:

  • Cover Charge or Entry Fee: Some cat cafés charge an initial fee to enter the cat area, which can range from $5 to $15 or more. This fee often includes a set amount of time with the cats, such as an hour.
  • Hourly Rate: Other cat cafés charge by the hour, typically between $5 to $10 per hour. Customers can spend a specified amount of time with the cats, and additional time may incur extra charges.
  • Combo Pricing: Many cat cafés offer a combination package that includes both entry to the cat area and a beverage or snack. These packages can range from $15 to $25.
  • Membership or Subscription: Some cat cafés offer membership or subscription plans that provide unlimited or discounted access to the cat area. Prices for memberships can vary.
  • Event Pricing: For special events, workshops, or classes held in the cat café, pricing may differ from regular entry fees, with costs based on the nature and duration of the event.
  • Cat Adoption Fees: If a visitor decides to adopt a cat during their visit, they may be required to pay an adoption fee, which typically ranges from $50 to $150 or more. This fee covers the cat’s spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and other care.
b. How Much Profit Do Cat Café Business Owners Make a Year?

The profit a cat café business owner can make in a year varies significantly based on several factors, including location, operating costs, business model, and customer demand.

Profit margins for cat cafés may range from 5% to 20% or more. However, these numbers can be highly variable. Successful cat cafés in high-traffic areas may achieve higher profits, while those in lower-traffic or higher-cost locations may have lower profit margins.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • The capacity of the cat café business
  • The types of additional services offered
  • The locations of the cat café business
  • The management style of the cat café business
  • The business approach of the cat café business
  • The advertising and marketing strategies adopted by the cat café business.
  • The number of years the cat café business is in business
d. What is the Profit Margin of a Cat café Business Product/Service?

On average, cat café businesses aim for a profit margin between 5% to 20%. However, it is important to note that this is a rough estimate, and individual businesses may have profit margins that fall outside of this range.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?

Below is the sales forecast for a cat café business. It is based on the location of the business and other factors as it relates to such startups in the United States;

  • First Fiscal Year (FY1): $380,000
  • Second Fiscal Year (FY2): $480,000
  • Third Fiscal Year (FY3): $750,000
  1. Set Up your Shop/Office

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for Cat Café Business?
  • The demography of the location especially as it relates to cat lovers
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of cat cafés in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking, and security et al
b. What State and City is Best to Start a Cat Café Business?
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Seattle, Washington
  • New York City, New York
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco, California
  • Austin, Texas
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota.
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate a Cat Café Business?
  • Coffee and Tea Brewing Equipment
  • Espresso Machine
  • Refrigeration Units
  • Food Preparation Equipment
  • Dishwashing Equipment
  • Commercial Coffee Grinder
  • Cash Register or Point of Sale System
  • Tables and Chairs
  • Cat Furniture and Supplies
  • Cat Litter Boxes
  • Cat Food and Water Bowls
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Kitchen Utensils and Cookware
  • Food Display Cases
  • Merchandise Display Shelves
  • Soundproofing Materials
  • Food Storage Containers
  • Security System
  • Cat Toys and Enrichment Items
  • Computer and Office Equipment.
  1. Hire Employees

If you are looking to start a standard cat café company, then it is very important to hire at least a handful of employees who can man key positions in the organization. You should also make provisions to hire contract staff whenever you have a big cat café event.

  1. Launch the Business Proper

If you want to create hype around the business and announce your name in a big way in the industry, then it is advisable to organize a launch party to officially open your cat café business.

a. What Makes a Cat Café Business Successful?
  • Choose good locations to launch the business
  • Make sure you partner with key stakeholders and offer a wide range of services and support (give your customers options)
  • Throw a grand party before officially starting the cat café business
  • Be deliberate with your marketing sales approach
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth to promote your cat café business
  • Leverage all available online and offline platforms to promote your cat café business
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a Cat Café Business?

A typical day at a cat café begins with preparing the café for customers. Staff ensure cat welfare by feeding and cleaning. As visitors arrive, they may pay an entry fee, order coffee or snacks, and spend time with the cats. Café staff manage orders, maintain cleanliness, and enforce rules for cat safety.

Cat interactions, petting, and playtime are encouraged. Special events or workshops may be scheduled, enhancing the visitor experience. Cat adoptions may also take place.

c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build Cat Café Business?
  • A strong foundation in business management and entrepreneurship
  • A genuine love and understanding of cats and their care
  • Experience or training in the food and beverage industry
  • Skills in marketing, branding, and social media management
  • Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills
  • Experience in animal care, ideally with cats
  • Knowledge of health and safety regulations
  • Understanding of local, state, and federal regulations related to businesses, animal care, and health codes.
  • Proficiency in financial management, including budgeting, accounting, and expense control.
  • The ability to negotiate with suppliers and build relationships with local shelters, veterinarians, and other relevant parties.
  • Experience in event planning for workshops, classes, and special events held at the cat café.
  • Strong problem-solving skills to address unexpected issues related to cats, customers, and operations.
  • Skills in recruiting, training, and managing a team of staff, including baristas, cat care specialists, and administrative roles.
  • The capability to conduct market research to identify target markets, understand customer preferences, and assess competition.
  • Creativity to develop unique ideas, cat-related activities, and a captivating ambiance.