Launched in Asia, then taken over in Europe, the fashion for cat cafes has reached the USA. A cat cafe is specially designed for the lifestyle of kittens, with hiding places, climbing, and playgrounds. In most cat cafes you can see the separate areas for bowls for water, food, and a special location for sleeping cats and their litter boxes. It is a place where you can come, drink coffee, and pet tens of cats while enjoying time with your friends and family.
Table of Contents
- Create a Business Plan
- Form a Legal Entity
- Register For Taxes
- Open A Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set Up Business Accounting
- Get Necessary Permits and Licenses
- Get Business Insurance & Emergency Fund
- Define Your Brand
- Create Your Business Website
- Take Care of Your Cats
But how to open a cat cafe with your own rules? How is it possible and what do you need to open such a start-up in your town? What are the steps you should follow to start a cat cafe? Find out all details about cat cafes in the article below.
Create a Business Plan
A real trend in the world of a small business idea, the opening of a cafe must start, like any other business, with a well-developed plan. Therefore, any fresh entrepreneur or experienced businessman must develop a business plan that meets his aspirations. What results do you want to achieve? How do you plan to get there? What goals have you set for yourself? How much money are you willing to invest in your dream?
So, a business plan is a virtual map that traces the course of your business model, but it is also a pitching tool, in case you want to attract an investor. According to The Balance Small Business, a business plan for a coffee shop (or your own cat cafe) should include an overview of the business and industry, market research, sales and marketing strategy, management data, operations, and financial planning. Don’t stress over so strange terminology regarding a business plan. Take it easy and one by one, and you’ll succeed. Plus, you can always talk to other business owners or local agencies who can help you with business advice.
Set Your Target Customers
A cat cafe starting implies always your target market. They are cat lovers who can’t have one at home. It is not about they can’t afford it. Maybe their landlords don’t allow pets in the house. Or they have allergies that can be controlled if they contact a cat once in two weeks, for example.
The other target segment is kids, whose parents don’t allow them to have a cat. Who could take care of it, anyway? Children want cats but their enthusiasm doesn’t last long. They forget to take care of it and leave all the responsibility to their parents. This is the truth!
What Do You Need to Start a Cat Cafe & How Much Would it Cost?
Basically, you should know how much it costs to open a cafe when you build your business plan. However, it is advisable to make a separate financial plan so that you know exactly the budget for a cat cafe business. It is essential to determine if you want a franchise or your own brand and how much money you need to open a cafe depending on the type of business model you choose. For example, according to Wall-Street.com, investments in the cafes of some of the most well-known chains present on the local market start at $14,000 and reach $150,000, but franchisees can also pay monthly royalties. This means that even for your own business you have to take out of your pocket a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the cat cafe business plan.
Plus, to start a cat cafe business, you must also allocate a certain budget for:
- payment of employees’ salaries; even if you plan to do everything yourself at first, you still need an efficient person to handle the accounting records;
- always have stock of fresh coffee, milk, honey, sugar, and other products needed to prove to customers that you care about their needs;
- fresh and tasty pastries that will make happy those who appreciate your coffee;
- to pay the current expenses, as well as all taxes to the state;
- cafe-specific dishes; to cover all the requirements, it would be good to buy disposable glasses, as well as coffee cups with an interesting design, which customers won’t forget;
- and, surely, dry food for cats and other accessories would help them have a happy life among humans and other cats.
How does a successful cat cafe make money?
A cat coffee shop business also depends a lot on the ambiance you offer to the consumers. It should be warm and welcoming, allowing the customer to relax for a few minutes. If cat cafe owners do not have enough funds to invest in an atypical setting, make up for it with their friendly customer care, sincere smiles, cleanliness, free parking, and prompt service.
The diversified menu is also another ingredient of a successful business plan that will bring you profit. A rich offer allows you to address a large number of potential consumers. Reward your customers with a crunchy cookie or a delicious cookie, even if they step on your doorstep less often.
Learn how to promote your own cafe. Even if you are active on social media platforms, you still need to study to learn how to use advertising tools to your advantage. Fortunately, you have a choice, and some agencies provide you with very useful information at affordable prices.
Also, you can put an entry fee or adoption fees just as most businesses do to cover charge. Or you may have an hourly cover rate which would cover all the expenses of your cat cafe. Usually, cat cafes charge $2 – $5 per hour. But anyone who loves cats could definitely spend time here regardless of these prices.
How to become an unforgettable cat cafe?
Another reason why people will gladly return to your cat cafe may be the fact that you offered them a pleasant experience and that you gave your interest so that they would feel as good as possible in your place.
You can offer your customers the opportunity to choose their coffee assortment by smell or you can help them with recommendations and details about the various ways of preparation. Also, you can come up with small storytelling about the cats which are living in your cat cafe. Cat people just adore such stories.
In the end, ask them if they liked coffee and give them a small bag of beans from the assortment of coffee they drank. The gesture will certainly be appreciated, and such a “small sacrifice” will not affect your profits, especially at the beginning, when the flow of customers will be smaller.
A Motivational Story:
Colony Cafe and Wine Bar is Pittsburgh’s first feline-friendly cafe, offering a unique, fun, relaxing environment for humans while finding loving homes for Pittsburgh’s rescue cats.
The cafe was founded in 2015 by a group of friends who wanted to combine their love of wine and food with their passion for helping animals. The first location opened on the South Side of Pittsburgh, where it quickly gained popularity with locals looking for a place to enjoy delicious food and drinks while adopting a new pet.
Now with three locations across the city, Colony is not just a cafe – it’s also a safe haven for kittens and cats looking for their forever homes.
The cafe is open from 9am to 10pm on weekdays and 11am to 10pm on weekends. They have a full coffee bar with an assortment of teas and herbal infusions as well as a variety of pastries available daily. In addition to their delicious food and drinks, they also have local artwork on display throughout the cafe.
What will you name your business?
Although there are no successful patented secrets for choosing a business name yet, here are some things to keep in mind. If you want your business to be more than just a cat cafe, the best solution is to choose a brand name relevant to your field of activity.
Try to respect the harmony of sounds. A theory often found in branding books is that of sound harmony, when it comes to choosing a name for a product or service. The same goes for the brand name. It is recommended to make it simply unforgettable for your customers.
Make it easy to remember for those who love cats. Forget the complicated names from now on, which do nothing but bother consumers. Look for simple cat cafe names that sound good and are easy to remember. At the same time, it is good to avoid using dashes, dots, and other symbols that make it difficult to write and memorize the brand name. For example, you may get the name “Meaw Coffee” or “Coffee Lady Cat”. Try to merge those two important ingredients of your business and you’ll get a nice result.
Choose a Proper Location
Cat cafes gained popularity thanks to their locations because it is essential for the success of such a business. Before making a decision regarding location, try to spend more time in the areas that you consider for your place. This type of cat-friendly business is suitable for a central space, preferably, easily accessible, very visible, and with constant pedestrian traffic.
You also need to find out what the area means from a demographic point of view or if there are other cat cafes or bars nearby that serve wonderful drinks. As a landmark, a space where no more than 10 people pass every day is not at all suitable for opening a cat cafe location. Instead, near the subway, in the main squares, near the office parks, or in the city center, you can have a daily flow of customers.
Form a Legal Entity
Legal entities, subsidiaries, and their representative offices are registered by the State Registration Chamber within up to 5 working days from the date of submission of all documents required for registration.
For the state registration of legal entities, you should present the following when starting a cat cafe besides the business plan:
- your identity card, authorized by a power of attorney authenticated in the manner established by law;
- proof of payment of the registration fee;
- the application for registration according to the model approved by the state registration body;
- the decision of incorporation and the articles of incorporation of the legal person, depending on the legal form of organization, in two copies;
- the opinion of the National Commission of the Financial Market – for the insurance companies, the non-state pension funds, and the savings and loan associations.
Know that the registration of the legal entity is carried out in an emergency (24 hours or 4 hours), as well as on a day off or holiday.
Register For Taxes
From the moment a cat town cafe is set up, you become responsible for paying various taxes, fees, and other mandatory payments.
Thus, there are three types of mandatory payments:
1. Taxes and fees;
2. Compulsory social security contributions;
3. Compulsory health insurance premiums.
Small Business Taxes
In turn, general state taxes and fees are classified as:
1. Income tax
2. Value added tax
3. Excise duties
4. Other general state taxes and fees (private tax, customs duty, and road tax).
You can apply for all of them at the US government. Acces USGov Website and read about how you can file the tax payments hassle-free. Don’t forget to put all the taxes in your solid business plan.
Open A Business Bank Account & Credit Card
Opening business accounts or a credit card for your business will help you manage your money and taxes correctly. In addition, some financial companies offer discounts and more facilities to legal entities. In this case, you will be able to monitor the expenses and income of the business, receive financial aid and take care properly of the cats.
Set Up Business Accounting
Until very recently, the common opinion was that business software fits only large enterprises. Today, modern solutions are a great solution for any growing business. An increasingly dynamic environment, a growing customer base, and the volume of orders placed by customers require more efficient management and automation of customer service processes. But let’s end with these difficult words and come easy processes.
You can set up a very simple business accounting that will help you manage the workflow and receive profit from your income. Some business accounting types that you could need are financial account, managerial accounting, tax accounting, and forensic accounting (audit). All these accounting will help you create the budget, get additional resources from financial companies, and report profits for your own cat café.
Get Necessary Permits and Licenses
Another very important aspect of the business is compliance with local regulations that are constantly changing, and at the beginning of the business, at least the following authorizations or documents are essential. Plus, your local health department could be alarmed hearing about cats and preparing food at the same location. That is why your business plan must show there is no need to worry.
Federal Business Licensing Requirements
Each type of business has its licensing requirements. They depend also on the state where you want to open your cat café. You’ll need a federal business license regarding alcoholic beverages if you want to sell wine or beer in your cat café.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
According to FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors, the state and local authorities often require even more small business licenses and have more issues to consider than the health regulations imposed by the federal government. When you start a business, there are state and federal regulations that must abide by in order to legally operate. Here is the list of requirements your cat café business needs to meet:
- Sanitary-veterinary authorization for the operation of the cat cafe;
- Environmental notice and other space or zoning permits;
- PSI Authorization (Fire Prevention and Extinguishing);
- Operating authorization from the Labor Protection for the observance of the work discipline;
- The operating permit from the City Hall where the activity of the cafe was carried out;
- Contract for the provision of sanitation services with a company operating in this field;
- Notices that are needed to stream music and place banner ads at your location.
Get a Certificate of Occupancy
A certificate of occupancy is a document that you get from a local government agency. This act proves that you can start a cat cafe and it meets all the applicable building codes and laws. The certificate of occupancy contains all the information about the building’s functionality. It is one of the most important documents of your business plan.
Proper cooking of food is the first essential rule for food hygiene. Another very important rule regarding the rules of food hygiene in the kitchen is the correct storage of food. Make sure that the remaining food or open food packages are covered with cling film or are tightly stored in plastic boxes. Do not refrigerate hot food and dispose of any expired food in the refrigerator.
When it comes to cooking for your clients, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms of your cafe. For this reason, it requires the same attention when it comes to maintaining hygiene in the kitchen. Make sure the whole cooking team is aware of these rules of hygiene in the kitchen, and this way you will keep the bacteria at bay – which is essential for a healthy and happy meal.
Get Business Insurance & Emergency Fund
One of the most important aspects of opening a cafe is to have an emergency fund. Not spending more than you earn or everything you earn per month is also crucial. For this, you need to identify what you spend your money on and you can only do this if you write down a period, day by day all the expenses made, and at the end of the month, you make a serious analysis and prioritize the expenses so you can get rid of the insignificant ones.
Define Your Brand
Don’t underestimate the power of a good brand book. Maybe a professional one is expensive, but you can find multiple templates on the Internet and adapt them to your cat cafe. Just imagine, a brand book with animals and coffee.
Promote Your Cat Cafe
Social media marketing will be your best friend. Create reliable and professional content for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others. You can make it by yourself or you can hire a social media manager to create Instagram Reels and TikTok videos about your cat staff. It is up to you to gain the attention of cat lovers. And don’t forget to promote the big opening for starting a cat cafe.
Keep people coming back
Not everything the competition does is a letter of the law to follow, because the competition may not be creative enough, thus leaving room for you in an as yet unexplored field. Think of your brand as the identity of a person, an entity, and try to represent it as well as possible. It will make your customers come again and again and not only for cats but also for a great atmosphere. Start with a grand opening and create a wonderful relationship between people and your brand.
Partner with local rescue organizations
To increase or decrease the number of animals in your cafe, you should partner with different local rescues and animal shelters. It will help you save cats or find them new homes. It would be great to promote shelters through your cat cafe and help hundreds of cats to live their nine lives happily.
Create Your Business Website
Social media accounts aren’t enough to promote such a new business. A simple website with basic information could serve you as a business card. People will see your team (also the team of cats), the “about us” story, and the menu. Also, you never know: the website could help you attract potential investors. So, get a professional web developer who loves cats and is ready to help you.
Take Care of Your Cats
When starting a cat cafe, you should take care properly of the cats. They are your business card and simply amazing creatures. Their well-being should be your priority just as gaining profit every month.
Get a professional veterinarian
Partner will a veterinarian or with a vet hospital through a long-term contract to ensure your cats are in good hands. Such a partnership may be successful if you promote each other on the daily basis and support each other initiatives. Be sure that you’ll do a great job!