Written By: Whitney Sickels & Heath Hanson, Owners, Naughty Cat Cafe

So you want to know HOW to open a cat cafe. However, the first question shouldn’t be HOW… but WHY open a cat cafe.

Being discontent with your current 9-5, loving animals, or having always wanted to start your own business are all good motivations but they are NOT good reasons.

In our opinion, there is only one reason to open a cat cafe and that is to support the existing efforts in your community. By serving as a foster home and adoption facility, cat cafes help local shelters and rescues by relieving the stress of overcrowding, providing a space for the cats to get much-needed socialization, and handling adoption administration. Most importantly, cat cafes provide an additional way for homeless cats to get exposure outside of the shelter environment.

So you have to first ask yourself: Does your community NEED a cat cafe? The best way to answer this is to go to your local shelters and rescues and ask them if a cat cafe would add value to their efforts. They are the experts and have spent plenty of time and resources developing strategies on how to meet the needs of animals in your community. It is your job to first see if a cat cafe has a place in that strategy without forcing it.

Maybe your local shelter is transferring in most of their cats from other communities and really needs help with launching a TNR program instead. Perhaps you already have a cat cafe in your area, and what is really needed is a low cost spay and neuter clinic.

The bottom line is, do not create a need that does not exist. Do not re-invent the wheel or replicate existing efforts in the community.

One of the biggest challenges in communities can be getting similar organizations to work together towards the same goal. It is essential that we all keep focused on our shared goals and look for ways to support and complement one another’s efforts.

After you have done your research and spoken to your local groups, if it is determined that a cat cafe is the best tactic in your communities’ existing strategy, then go for it! And subscribe to this channel.

BUT BEFORE YOU QUIT YOUR DAY JOB, you have got some homework to do. While at first glance a cat cafe may seem as straightforward and simple as a room full of cats, it is far more complex. It requires knowledge and expertise in many areas outside of caring for cats, such as shelter medicine experience, a keen understanding small business management, marketing, bookkeeping and accounting, commercial real estate and contract law. Not to mention the endless hours of work, massive amounts of money and a surprising number of legal risks involved.

We say all of this not to scare you away, but to help provide you with the most information up front, so you don’t set yourself and the cats, up to fail. That is why we have created a series of videos on How to Start a Cat Cafe so that you can have a more realistic assessment of the inherent challenges of pioneering this unique concept. There are so many communities that still have not even heard of a cat cafe and attempting to introduce the concept can be overwhelming.

It is at this point we suggest that you craft your mission statement. In developing this unique concept, there are many elements that must be balanced and sometimes compete with one another. By having a clear mission statement from the beginning, it will serve as a Rubrik to which you can constantly refer to when making strategic decisions.

Our mission statement at Naughty Cat Cafe is to provide a healthy and safe environment for the community to socialize with and adopt cats from our local shelters. We work to enhance the bond between humans and animals and raise awareness on the importance of spay and neuter.

If you are still reading and are not a scaredy cat, then get to work!

About Naughty Cat Cafe

Naughty Cat Cafe is a comfortable and healthy space to interact with adoptable cats and enjoy coffee, tea, beer and baked goods. Chattanooga’s first and only cat cafe! Plenty of free parking! Must be 11 years or older. OPEN Wednesday – Sunday. CLOSED Monday & Tuesday. Book meow!

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