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What are Cat Cafes?

Updated on March 1, 2022
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I'm a Midwesterner with a background in writing and media. My articles are mainly about relationships, dating, and heartbreak.


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What in the world are cat cafes? Cat cafes are a new trend in big cities. They've been around in the States for a couple of years, but they started out overseas in Asia. If you're someone who watches the news, a story about a cat cafe comes up almost weekly.

Cat cafes are like normal coffee shop with drinks and food, but with the added bonuses of felines walking around. There's one in Portland, New York City, and Washington D.C. A temporary cat cafe popped up in Oklahoma City as a fundraiser. Those who have been traveling abroad came across the cat cafes and decided to bring them here.

Cats are essentially the spirit animal of the Internet. Their fame and enthusiasts has nearly tripled since the dawning of global image sharing. You can even dig in the Internet to find a cat Bible, a translation of the Bible in lolcats. Right meow, cats are taking over the internet, and since they are so trendy -- they're now becoming a part of the coffee tradition.

If you're looking for a new career choice, owning a cat cafe may be one of the smartest plans right now. A woman did a Kickstarter for the cat cafe in Washington D.C. and she earned over $32,000. You literally can ask for help from the Internet to create a cat cafe and not have to spend any of your money making the business. So if you live in a big city -- I recommend it. I don't know if cat cafes will start popping up in suburban or rural places -- it may take a few years in the big cities before the rite of cats comes to a store near you.

It takes a lot of work to own a cat cafe. You'll still have to come up with a unique menu for your customers including drinks and food. You'll need to create an environment that's works for both humans and cats. Not only that, but you'll have to deal with the Health Inspector. Each cat will have to be licensed if it is going to be accepted to live at the cafe. You'll need furniture that the cat can't easily destroy. Don't forget to watch the doors, tag the cats, and have a place where they can use the bathroom away from the customers. Also, you'll have to get cats that won't suddenly strike out on your customers.

It isn't too hard to see why this idea is taking off. A recent study found that the number one place that people have their first date is Starbucks. Combining people's love interest in coffee with the growing interest in cats just seems natural in the modern world.

What can you expect at a cat cafe? Well, cat jungle gyms, scratching posts, toys, and people on their laptops. I'm sure that trying to take care of the smell will be part of it. One cat can be stinky -- but 12? Yikes.

Cat Cafe Gardens

What may help with the smell, and also get the cats in a location where they won't be running out the door -- would be to have a courtyard where the cats can hangout, possibly a catdoor to let them get there. Not all cats like only being indoors.

Of course, part of what a cat cafe often does is help the cats get adopted. It becomes more and more difficult to find a healthy cat at shelters where there is overcrowding, spreading of diseases, and an overall oppressive environment. These cat cafes that are popping across the red, white, and blue are like heaven for the cats.

Cat Needs in a Cat Cafe

One of the biggest parts of taking care of a cat cafe is making sure the cats are okay . It might not be the easiest thing to match a whole bunch of cats together when often cat personalities clash. It may help to have different sections for the cat cafe so that cats that don't get along won't be running into each others' space.

Expect that not only will you be buying lots of food for your customers, but also your cats. It will take hiring amazing baristas who can monitor the cats to make sure they're not overeating, distressed, or bothering people.

Cats will need to be spayed and neutered. You don't want a cat in heat at a restaurant, there's something about that which kind of ruins a date.

You may want to invest in wipes that you can find in pet stores to give the cats baths. Considering their hygiene in a business place is more important at home.

You'll want to have a hostess at the cafe because you may need to explain rules to guests to make sure they know what they're getting themselves into. Also, you want to make sure they comply with the cats and don't distress the felines.

It's up to you whether you want your cats to have their claws or be declawed. Some PETA workers might be upset with you if you declaw them. If you do keep cats with claws, you'll want to warn your customers just in case they're not used to claws.

Now, cats can become distressed and freak out, especially when there's too many people, other cats, or dogs. You may need a training and rehabilitation process before adding cats into the existing cafe. You do not want your cat to scratch up one of your customers and then sue you. A cat can leave horrible scratches that can leave a person in pain, numbing pain that breaks into hives.

Make sure that where the cats use the bathroom is separated from the rest of the cafe. You'll need to clean litter boxes everyday, maybe twice a day. It'll get expensive purchasing litter -- you may want to look into methods of how to create your own.


Pet Rentals

Many cat cafes charge hourly fees for visitors. This can be seen as a pet rental -- and a way for people to see if they like a particular cat. The world's first cat cafe opened in Taipai, Taiwan in 1998. The Taiwanese cat café, originally opened to provide a relaxing haven for busy urban workers, eventually became a famous tourist destination, attracting tourists from Japan as well as all over the globe. The first cat cafe to open in North America was in Canada in August 2014. It's called Le Café des Chats/Cat Café Montreal.

Over 15 cat cafes are expected to open in the U.S. Crumbs and Whiskers is expected to open in Washington D.C.; it is partnering with the humane society to get cats in the hands of owners. If you want to make a cat cafe -- it might serve your business well to work with a local shelter or pet store.

If you've ever wanted to work with animals and sell food at the same time, now is a greater time than ever. Expect more cat cafes to open across the world and for more people to get together over coffee and cute animals. Who knows, maybe another animal cafe idea will pop open soon -- or we'll start having robot cat cafes. Wouldn't that be cool? Only time will tell.

Just keep in mind, cats are living creatures and not just props or toys. If you're going to open a cat cafe, know they're are many factors in making your business work and to stay in town. You'll want your cafe to have a good reputation, so it'll take a lot of work to make sure it stays in good condition. Budget your money well and use social media to network and make your dream a reality.

What could be greater than hanging out with cats? Cats help lower your blood pressure, they're some of the best companions, and they're low maintenance compared to dogs. Cats will keep you warm, they're entertained easily, and they're super independent. As an owner of cats and dogs, I must say cats will win your heart if you let them. Don't be fooled by everyone that says cats are poop -- a cat will brighten your day even when they're being jerks, like knocking over plants or peeing on the carpet! Not really. That's not cool when they do that.

There's all the reason in the world to go to a cat cafe and have your blood pressure lowered. There's also a place in Portland where you can go take yoga classes with cats. How cool is that?

© 2015 Andrea Lawrence


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