Are cat cafés profitable?

The answer surely depends upon the location of the cat café. You can gauge the success of cat cafés to a certain extent by how many of them there are. Apparently, they are popular in Asia. Japan has at least a 150 cat cafés 20 years after the first one was created. That is still a tiny, tiny percentage of the overall number of cafés.

La Maison du Chat closed after about 2 years
La Maison du Chat closed after about 2 years. Image: Maison du Chat.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

THERE ARE SOME MORE ARTICLES ON CAT CAFES AT THE BASE OF THE PAGE.

The originator of the cat café is a Taiwanese person and that country has at least five cafés on September 13, 2022. Hardly a massive success story.

Singapore is a place where cat cafés are said to be “ultra-popular”. However, in that metropolis or jurisdiction (I don’t know what you call Singapore) there are a measly dozen. Once again, a tiny proportion of the overall number of cafés.

In the United Arab Emirates, there are apparently three or four cat cafés.

In the United States, according to CNN, there are at least 125 cat cafés.

You get the message. The percentage of people opening cat cafés to those opening normal cafés is minute. That must indicate that they are less profitable than standard cafes.

One big issue with cat cafés is that you’ve got animals on the premises ?. That must open up a plethora of city, county, state or federal laws. Or perhaps they are all bundled together making it extra complicated.

It depends how bureaucratic a country is on how they impose laws on businesses. Some countries like to leave commercial enterprises alone rather than over-regulate them.

But it is having animals on your premises which is going to require some regulation and it is going to be both a negative and a positive to the success of a cat café. Many people love to be in a café with cats. Cats add something to an establishment. Of course, you’ve got to be a cat lover to go in to a cat café. That automatically reduces your marketplace.

Normal cafés can serve any citizen living in the area. Cat cafés are only going to serve people who like cats and those who don’t see an ethical problem in ‘using’ cats to promote a business. This will be a large number. However, it will be a smaller number than for a normal café.

So, the marketplace is smaller and the regulations are tougher. Both these aspects are going to be a negative on a cat café being profitable.

It would seem that if a person opens up a cat café, they’re going to really want to make a point and be a cat lover.

And they’ve got to work in association with a cat rescue facility not far away in order to have a supply of rescue cats. It is only rescue cats that populate cat cafés because part of their operation is to rehome them. It’s a double service: to serve coffee and cake and to rehome cats.

The bureaucratic nature of opening a cat café and keeping it going is highlighted in a story today about a cat café in Pimlico, London called Maison Du Chat. It has shut down partly because of the council’s bureaucracy and regulations.

They placed super tough regulations on the woman who owned the café, Florence Heath, 40. She had to obtain licences and comply with certain regulations which clearly, judging by her thoughts on the matter, tested her to her limit and beyond.

When you add that to the Covid pandemic and long lockdowns over that period with no customers and perhaps now with the cost-of-living crisis and high inflation, the overall picture is bleak and it caused her to shut down.

During the time that they were open (from December 2020) they managed to rehome 37 abandon cats. The problems appear to have started when Westminster Council said that she needed a special licence and couldn’t keep the cats without installing a third doorway. That demand was eventually dropped but it added an extra burden to her.

She ended up with £45,000 worth of debt which is partly due to the fact that business rates were £7,000. No doubt she had to pay landlord rental fees as well. Florence said that she had to spend so much time “lining up the last pound and then something like this comes in and I’ve just had enough. I’m tired of fighting. I’ve been fighting for two years.”

There you have it. She’s been fighting to keep it afloat and to make it profitable. That really does paint a picture and perhaps answers the question in the title with respect to opening a cat café in the UK. You’re not going to make a lot of money. But you’ll be doing some good in terms of animal welfare.

It’s going to be hard work and I suspect that business-minded people are going to shy away from cat cafés as a business model mainly because it turns on having cats on the premises which adds a whole new dimension to licensing and complying with local authority regulations.

I have painted quite a negative picture perhaps incorrectly. There will be some cat cafés which are stable and successful. And I wish that the cat café business model could be far more popular because I am very concerned about animal welfare.

But they didn’t really gain any traction in the marketplace. If they had there would be many thousands of them. I think it is down to the regulations and the special licences you need.

Below are some more articles on cat cafés.

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