How To Start A Cat Cafe

Everything you need to know about cat cafes!

Are you thinking of starting an uncommon animal business? Then, a cat café is an ideal option. A cat café is a business that combines a pet adoption center with a coffee shop. Customers of these business establishments normally pay an hourly rate to play with pet cats while enjoying their favorite snacks. Cat cafés were first introduced in Taiwan in 1998. Since then, they have become widely popular, with many countries all over the world embracing them.

In the United States, cat cafés started taking off in 2014, with both temporary and permanent establishments coming up in many big cities. If you’ve been looking to venture into this business but don’t know where to start, we are here to help you. The steps below will give you a head start in a successful cat café business. While you’ll be able to handle some of them yourself, others will require the assistance of experts like lawyers, web developers, and graphic designers.

Generating an ideal name for your business

Choosing the ideal name for your business is an important and challenging task. However, you can visit our how to name a Business guide or use our business name generator. We also recommend that you research the following before registering your business name:

  • The business records of your state.
  • State & Federal trademark records
  • Web domain availability.

Please note that it’s crucial to secure your business domain name before another business takes it.

Plan your cat cafe

A well-designed business plan is essential to succeed as an entrepreneur. Furthermore, a business plan will help map out your business’s details and uncover some unknowns. A few significant matters to consider are:

  • The startup and ongoing costs
  • Target market
  • Pricing

Luckily for you, we have helped with a few of this research.

Startup and ongoing cost

Starting up a cat café business may require a lot of costs. Some of the more sizable expenses include:

  • Buying or leasing a place for the cat café
  • Furnishing the space, making it feline-friendly
  • Creating a Point-of-Sale system to exhibit and sell your café products.
  • Purchasing food preparation equipment.
  • Buying litter boxes, cat pods, food & litter, and water & food dishes,
  • Purchasing the ingredients to prepare clients’ food and beverages.

To maintain low startup expenses, you can choose not to purchase the food preparation ingredients and equipment. Rather than preparing food and beverages on-site, you can partner with a close café to prepare the dishes. Moreover, you can delegate the task to an employee who would take clients’ orders, pick up the food & drinks at the café close by, and bring them to your cat café. Below are answers to a few questions that might be running through your mind.

How much does it cost to keep operating a cat café?

The expenses of running a cat café are pretty substantial. These expenses include rent, employees’ wages, utilities, food costs, and all other costs associated with cats care.

How does a cat café make money?

In a cat café business, you can make money in two ways. You can charge your clients hourly for the time they spend with cats, and you can also charge for the food and drinks they order.

How much income can you make from a cat café?

When your cat café business is located in a popular area, you can make substantial revenue. Even at $7/client, you can generate $70 with just ten visitors in one hour. At $20/hour, the return increases to $200/hour with ten visitors. Usually, a cat café can contain more than ten visitors.

How do you increase your business revenue?

One unique way of increasing your revenue in a cat café business is hosting events. Events can be used as a tool to attract potential customers. Because it is a special event, you can even charge more for each visitor.

Your target market

The target market of a cat café business is cat lovers. Also, cat lovers may reach out for several reasons:

  • To spend some time with cats if they don’t own one.
  • To meet with friends in a delightful environment


Depending on where your cat café is located, your pricing plans may vary. For example, Crumbs & Whiskers cat café in Washington, D.C., sets between $18- $22 for visits above 70-minute. On the other hand, Cat Café Madison in Wisconsin sets $7 for every 60-minute visit. This also covers $1 for a drink.

Furthermore, some clients would love to adopt cats. Typically, they will need to pay an adoption fee, but cat café businesses often don’t generate income off of this fee. Rather, it helps cover veterinary care, litter, food, and other ongoing expenses. Additionally, you can use a smart POS system to generate weekly reports and fine-tune the prices.

Secure the right location

Choosing the right location can be a major key to the success of your cat café. Try to keep accessibility in mind when considering potential places. It will be best if your customers can gain easy access to your shop whenever they want to. Ensure that you choose a centralized location with high visibility and access to a free parking area.

Another essential thing you need to consider when choosing a location is size. You will require enough space for customers and cats to interact. Moreover, you also have to make sure there is an area for the kitties to retreat and unwind. Depending on your state and local regulations, you may be required to have your animals and food separate. An extra dining area will be perfect if you fall into this category.

While following your business plan, ensure that your cat café has bathroom access, room for cats and customers, and a moderately sized cooking area to accommodate your menu. If you see a location that satisfies all these conditions, do well to secure it as soon as possible.

Create a model of operation

There are several models of operation you can choose from when looking to start a cat cafe. Most cat cafes charge an hourly rate to visit inside and spend time with the animals. You must decide whether you’d like to offer free drinks and snacks to those that pay this fee or charge differently for food and drinks. On the other hand, some cat cafes have embraced the pay-to-play model, which gives any patron that purchases drinks or food the chance to spend some time with cats for no cover charge. Sometimes, you may even create reservations and schedules for visiting your café due to increased demand. When determining your model of operation, it will be best to keep the economics of your environment in mind and pick the one you think will yield the best profit.

Find a reliable veterinarian

All the kitties in your cat café will need to receive treatments and be medically healthy while under your care. Using the services of a trusted veterinarian is crucial when it comes to this.

However, your veterinarian must be aware of your business, newly observed symptoms, and how frequently your cats are exposed to crowds. This will help keep your cats and customers healthy and happier.

Market your business

It would be best to put a marketing strategy for your cat cafe in place before you begin operations. Utilize radio advertisements, billboards, and spots in newspapers to attract attention for your forthcoming launch.

You also can drop business cards everywhere you go or in strategic locations like community libraries, shelters, pet stores, and rescues. This will draw the attention of your target customers- cat lovers.

Hire staff

Most businesses require staffing as it may be difficult for an individual to oversee multiple business operations and departments. You can employ staff to help take care of cats, serve customers and make food before the day of your launch. Moreover, it will be best to do this before your opening day for enough training. Nevertheless, your staff must be ready to function and be aware of what is required of them.

Register for taxes

Before your business can be up and running, you must register for several state and federal taxes. To register for taxes, you have to apply to get an EIN. This is free and easy!

You can visit the IRS website or reach out via fax or mail to get your free EIN.

Small business taxes

Depending on your business structure, you may be open to several options for how your cat café business will be tasked. For instance, some LLCs could gain from getting taxed as an S corporation.

Affiliate with local cat rescue groups

It is a big advantage if your patrons can apply to adopt the kitties they spend time with during visiting hours. Establish connections with regional animal rescues to populate your cafe. This way, your business can profit from being affiliated with local rescue organizations.

However, depending on the size of your cat cafe, you will likely need ten to fifteen cats on average. Also, do not forget to create an arrangement with a local veterinarian to deliver all the necessary health treatments and examinations for the cats.

Create a website

An online platform is a crucial part of any pet-related enterprise. Spend time to build a quality website for your cat cafe. Your website should feature profiles and photos of cats in your cafe, a reservation system, an email newsletter registration function, a blog, pricing information, and directions to your location.

In addition, your cat cafe website should also display many high-quality images of menu items, the cat play section, and seating areas.

Create a phone system for your business

Building a phone set up for your cat cafe business is one of the best ways to separate your personal life from your business life. This also helps to keep both lifestyles private. A phone system also makes your business appear more automated and legitimate, making it very easy for potential clients to locate and reach out to you.

There are numerous services open to entrepreneurs who would love to build a phone system for their business. You can lookout for the top phone service companies and pick out the best based on their features, ease of use, and price.

Get business insurance

Similar to licenses and permits, you must get insurance for your business before you can operate legally and safely. In fact, having business insurance protects your business’ financial status when a covered loss occurs.

Furthermore, several types of insurance policies are issued for different business types. These policies are also associated with different risks. However, if you have doubts about the types of risks your business may face, start with General Liability Insurance. This is the most standard coverage a small business requires. Clearly, this makes it a great place for your business to start.

Similarly, another significant insurance policy your business may need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Moreover, if your cat café business will have employees, there’s a good possibility that your state will need you to hold a Workers’ Compensation Coverage.

Set up your business accounts

After obtaining all required licenses, and you’ve registered for taxes, the next step is to select your preferred bank and create a separate account for your business. Doing this at the early stage of your business operations will make things easier. Moreover, a separate account for your business helps you stick to your financial plan.

Embrace an entrepreneurial mindset

Running a cat café isn’t an easy undertaking, and you’ll face various challenges. Sometimes, things can go wrong, or customers’ tastes and preferences may suddenly change. However, this doesn’t mean that you should quit the race. Instead, as an entrepreneur, you must develop an entrepreneurial mindset that will keep you focused on your goals. In addition, you must strive to learn and adapt to new situations continually, which will help you make it to the finishing line.

Plan a big launch

The last phase of setting up your cat café is putting everything in place for your grand opening. Ensure that the furnishing, arrangement, and food are on point. Have the kitties happy & ready to socialize with your clients. This is a big day for you and your cats, make sure it’s awesome and enjoyable.


Although it can be challenging, operating a cat café is very rewarding. The good thing about this type of business is that its clientele is very specific compared to that of a traditional café. Due to this, it allows an entrepreneur to set themselves apart from other competitors on the market. Of course, you will encounter insurmountable challenges just like other profit-making ventures. However, one very helpful approach is developing a strong business mindset that will give you the willpower to soldier on up to the end. Remember, quitters never win, and winners never quit. With determination, you can succeed in a cat café business. We wish you the best!

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Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro is a content writer dedicated to the technical side of running a business. He is our expert on domain names, eCommerce, and product development. Soro combines his six years of writing experience with an educational background in IT and is interested in the latest technology trends to provide his readers with the latest insights.

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