Cat cafes are steadily increasing in popularity. For people who like both coffee and cats, these cafes are almost a dream come true!
If you’re one of these people, you might be thinking about opening your own. However, it’s not something that’s right for everyone. That’s why we’ve put together ten tips on opening a cat cafe, so you’ll be ‘feline’ confident about your new business venture!
Just keep reading below to get the lowdown.
1. Create Your Business Plan
First things first. Decide on a business name and then get your business plan sorted.
Your business plan should cover everything, including legal documents and licenses, and you may decide to seek guidance from accountants and lawyers to help you along.
You’ll need to know your predicted startup costs, as well as your running costs, so you know how much you’ll be spending and the sort of revenue you need to bring in to make a profit. Follow the same steps as you would when setting up any business.
2. Find Your Market
Work out who your target market is. This will depend on where you locate the cafe and the demographics of the people around.
Some people might come because they like cats but don’t have one at home for whatever reason, while if you’re in a tourist-heavy area you might get visitors who miss their cats while on vacation, or want a new experience if they don’t have any cat cafes at home.
If you offer adoption services, which we’ll explain later, you might attract people who are considering bringing a new cat into their lives, and you can expect people who simply want to catch up with friends and family, just as they would in any other cafe.
3. Be Clear on Rules and Regulations
When you’re preparing food and drink to sell somewhere that cats live, there are always going to be some sort of rules and regulations to bear in mind.
Make sure you’re clear on what’s permitted, as rules can differ from area to area – for example, separate areas for eating and drinking and interacting with the cats might be necessary.
For the most part, this will all come with the territory when you make your business plan, but it’s worth mentioning separately because getting this right is vital when it comes to starting a cat cafe.
4. Set a Minimum Fee
Many cat cafes will set a minimum charge for all visitors, and you may decide to follow suit. As businesses are often juggling simultaneous goals of maximizing animal welfare and turning a profit, the flat entry fee or hourly rate can go towards looking after the cats.
When you visit a cat cafe you’re paying for the experience as well as the food and drink, so it’s perfectly reasonable to charge for what your customers consume in addition to the entry fee. However, some cat cafes will include a free hot drink or a small snack with the main fee, so this is also an option.
5. Plan a Menu
When you’ve decided on whether to charge a cover fee, it’s time to think about the menu.
Will you offer food alongside drinks? What about alcohol — of course, this might depend on regulations in your area. If you do offer food, will you stick to cakes and pastries or go for lunch-style meals?
These are all things you’ll need to consider before you open.
6. Make It Cat-Friendly
Let’s face it. The cats are the main attraction — if you don’t love cats you’d probably just go to a regular cafe instead!
As a result, the cafe needs to be extremely cat-friendly, so your four-legged residents are happy and healthy. It might go without saying, but litter boxes, food, water, and toys should all be accessible for your cats, and you should offer areas for the cats to go and spend time by themselves if they’re tired of socializing with the customers — and each other.
Some cat cafes offer protected outdoor areas for cats, and perches, swings, and hammocks for cats to venture across. Of course, this will all depend on your location and budget, but it’s important to put the cats first.
7. Have Clear Policies
To maximize hygiene and cleanliness, protect the cats, and make sure everybody’s on the same page, you should outline clear and easy-to-understand policies for everybody to follow.
If you only take bookings, make that clear. If there’s a cover charge, make that clear. Some cafes limit the number of parties with young children in the building at once, and it’s common to see rules about not waking sleeping cats, picking cats up, and feeding them — particularly if you’ve got decorations and tabletop accessories around!
8. Offer Adoptions
This isn’t something every cat cafe will do, but it might be worth considering.
Cafes can partner with local animal rescues, who supply the cafes with cats on a sort of foster-care basis. Customers who then bond with a cat during their stay at the cafe may then look into adoption.
Even those cafes that don’t partner up with local rescues may still take in rescue cats and could think about being open to adoptions.
9. Take Reservations
We’ve mentioned this earlier, but it’s important to emphasize that taking reservations is probably necessary when you start a cat cafe.
Particularly if you’re the first cat cafe in the area, you’re likely to get quite a few prospective customers. However, to ensure that you’re keeping everything hygienic and looking after the cats’ welfare too, you’ll need to limit the number of people or groups in the cafe at once.
By taking reservations, customers can avoid disappointment and wasted journeys, too.
10. Utilize Social Media
No matter what business you’re starting in the digital age, a good grasp of social media is a must — and cat cafes are no exception.
Make sure you’re active on social media platforms, posting pictures of the cats and any promotions you might have. You can link to your website and local rescues too, and talk about each cat so customers know what to expect.
It’s Time to Open Your Cat Cafe
Starting a cat cafe isn’t easy, but it could be one of the most rewarding decisions you make.
Take our tips on board, and make sure you adhere to any legal regulations in your area, and your cat cafe has every chance of being a roaring (or purring) success!
For more business advice, don’t forget to check out the rest of our posts.