It’s always been your goal to open a café, but lately, you’ve begun considering the veracity and longevity of animal cafés. Particularly, you’re interested in cat cafés. If you were to open a cat café, would anyone even come? Are cat cafés popular?
Cat cafés are quite popular, especially in Asia where they originated. If you are going to open a cat café, you have to consider it’s a controversial decision. That said, sharing the love of animals with others is always wonderful.
In this guide, we’ll evaluate the popularity of cat cafés, breaking down trends so you can decide where your future lies. You won’t want to miss this!
Are Cat Cafés Popular?
If cat cafés are popular, then surely, there should be one in every neighborhood, or very close to it, right? To gauge the popularity of the cat café trend, let’s look at the prevalence of cat cafés in regions around the world.
Keep in mind that there are no official records of the number of cat cafés out there, so some of these numbers are estimates based on the most current information available.
How Many Cat Cafés Are There in Asia?
The first cat café on the planet called Cat Flower Garden opened in 1998 in Taiwan. Asia has always been the premier destination for cat cafés, with Japan taking the trend and running with it after the concept of the cat café blew up.
According to the most current estimates, Japan has at least 150 cat cafés to this day. That means the country would still have the lion’s share of these specialized animal cafés even more than 20 years after the inception of the cat café.
Taiwan, the originator of the cat café, has at least five such cafés as of this writing, but it was a bit difficult to find out the precise number of cat cafes available.
Singapore is another Asian region where cat cafés are still ultra-popular, with more than a dozen open and ready for patrons to come in and pet some kitties.
A 2022 article from Thailand resource Thaiest notes that Thailand has over 20 cat cafés as of the early 2020s.
The United Arab Emirates, a very trendy travel destination, has at least three or four cat cafés to visit and explore.
How Many Cat Cafés Are There in the United States?
Although cat cafés did not start in the United States, it wasn’t long before the US carried on the trend of animal cafés overseas. A 2019 article in CNN says that that year, the US had at least 125 cat cafés available across more than 50 states.
Why People Love Cat Cafés
What is it about cat cafés that make them such a popular destination around the world? What a great question! The answer is plenty, so let’s take a look.
Cats Reduce Anxiety and Stress
According to an article in HelpGuide, even if you play with a cat once, your anxiety and stress can melt away. A purring feline will bring your blood pressure down and reduce nervous system stress, says the article.
If you go to a cat café after a long day of work or a stressful school project, being around a feline or several is surely going to make a huge difference in your mental state. You’ll feel far better, and the best part is that the benefits last for the rest of the day!
It’s Fun to Pet Cats
Let’s be real, petting a furry friend is always an enjoyable time. It feels nice, it benefits us, and it makes the cat happy too. What’s not to enjoy?
If a kitty decides to show you their belly and invites you for a belly rub, then you’re really in for a treat.
Cat cafés are a fantastic way to alleviate the feelings of loneliness that can crop up when traveling.
You’re in a foreign place, you don’t know anyone, you’re struggling to get around, and although you’re glad you traveled, you miss your friends and family back home.
What do you do in a situation like that? Why, pop into a cat café, of course! The presence of felines will surely fill your heart and soul with companionship.
Even if you’re not traveling, loneliness is still something that a lot of people have to contend with in their day-to-day lives.
If there’s a cat café in your neck of the woods, you can stop by, have a warming drink and a delicious pastry, and then spend an hour or so petting the cats.
Good Test for Whether a Cat Is a Good Pet
Some people will buy or adopt a pet on a dime while others recognize that it’s a big decision and so weigh their choices with the gravity that they so deserve.
It’s not like you can test drive a pet like you can a car…or can you? Indeed, you can!
By visiting an animal café, you can get a feel for how you get along with cats and how they relate to you.
One of the best parts of cat cafés is that they showcase a variety of cat breeds so you can experience many unique breeds in one place. You rarely have such an occasion to do that otherwise!
Cat Café Longevity – Are They Around Long?
Of course, we can’t discuss the popularity of cat cafés without delving into how long-lasting the cafés are.
When a cat café opens, how long does it stick around?
That’s almost impossible to say. Some cat cafés won’t make it a couple of months. Others might last a year but shut down in their second or third years.
More still have stood the test of time, but these cafés are admittedly few and far between.
So what is causing the sudden and prolific closures of cat cafés? Health code violations, mostly.
We’ll talk about this more in the next section, but cat cafés are subject to some very stringent health code rules.
Since animals and food aren’t exactly the greatest pairing, a cat café gets less leeway than other establishments for violating any health rules. If the café is hit with enough violations, then it’s game over.
The doors shut, the café disappears forever, and another cat café goes down in the annals of animal café history.
Of course, we’d be remiss to say that this only happens with cat cafés. Whether it’s a dog café or the much less popular hedgehog café, animal cafés of all nature are subject to these sudden shutdowns due to health code violations.
Is It Worth Opening a Cat Café? The Risks vs. the Rewards
Having read to this point, if you’re still contemplating whether you should open a cat café, we think this section will help you make up your mind. In it, we’ll evaluate the pros and cons of cat café ownership, beginning with the downsides.
The Risks of Owning a Cat Café
High Rate of Closure
As the last section made clear, cat cafés and other animal cafés can be here today and gone tomorrow.
This is never intentional. After all, a cat café costs just as much to open as any other café plus the additional charges related to caring for animals (don’t worry, we’ll talk about those charges more in this section).
No café owner wants to throw down a lot of money only to have their cat café fail in six months.
Even still, restaurants and cafés don’t have the best survival rate as it is. Anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of restaurants will fail within the first year. Within five years, the failure rate is as high as 80 percent.
When you add the challenges of managing an animal café to the usual rate of café and restaurant closures, it can really feel like the deck is stacked against you.
The Vitriol of Animal Rights Groups
It also doesn’t help that some animal rights groups will make animal cafés their frequent target.
These groups rarely understand that cat cafés and other animal cafés care very much for the animals that live there.
The cats are given a comfortable home, are secluded from people for hours every day, and are fed, taken to the vet, and mentally and physically stimulated.
Now, we won’t be naïve and say that every animal café treats its animals like gold. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
Some animal cafés are merely tourist traps that try to maximize earning potential. It’s profit over everything else, including the wellbeing of the animals.
That said, we wish that some of these animal rights groups would treat animal cafés on a case-by-case basis and reserve the vitriol for the cafés that really deserve it.
More Stringent Health Inspections
This was a major point from before that we want to elaborate on more now.
Cat cafés and other animal cafés must be cleaner than even the average café or restaurant, as the rules are that much more limiting.
The felines or other animals on the premises are never to be allowed in the kitchen, and the café must have a separate area for disposing of waste.
The frequency of health inspections is also higher for an animal café. You might be subject to at least two health inspections per year, and you often will not get any notice that the health inspector is coming.
The point of this is to ensure that you’re keeping up with the required cleanliness protocols for your cat café all the time, not only when you know a health inspector will drop by.
It’s not impossible to pass health inspections, especially if you are dedicated to keeping your cat café clean. That said, it’s difficult, and often the death knell for many animal cafés.
High Vet Bills
The last downside to owning a cat café is that in addition to paying for the building rent or mortgage, food and ingredient delivery, kitchen equipment, lighting, music, furniture, employee payroll, POS, and all your other financial responsibilities, as a cat café owner, you have vet bills to contend with as well.
The bills aren’t only for one cat but however many you own. You could easily spend thousands and thousands of dollars per year caring for and keeping your cats healthy. If your cat café isn’t making good money, it’s easy to sink into the red.
The Benefits of Owning a Cat Café
As promised, we’ll wrap up by examining the benefits of cat café ownership.
Save the Lives of Stray Cats
The cats that end up living at a cat café have literally nowhere else to go. They were collected from the streets and other bad situations. They’re strays without owners.
If they weren’t living in the cat café, they’d still be on the streets, where their lives would be in danger every single day.
If not that, then the cats could be in a shelter, where they’d have a limited time to be adopted before they’d be put down.
When you bring cats into your cat café, you’re saving the lives of these animals. That’s hugely commendable and doesn’t get enough credit as a part of cat café ownership.
Provides People Animal Companionship
Owning a restaurant or café is great because you can put a smile on people’s faces through your food.
Now, as a cat café owner, you have an additional way to make people happy, and that’s through the felines at your establishment.
There is hardly a better feeling than seeing your customers bond with the kitties at the café!
Much More Fun Than a Regular Café
You want a fun, enjoyable environment to work in, as you’ll spend a lot of time at the café. Well, animal cafés are about as fun as it gets.
You can decorate the entire café with a kitty theme. The menu will also be decidedly feline, with cat-shaped pastries, lattes with foam ears, and other sweet treats reminiscent of everyone’s favorite animals.
Then there are the cats themselves. When the cats aren’t with the customers, you’ll be there to corral them back to their living area, feed them, and play with them. You too can enjoy the benefits of reduced stress and anxiety with the companionship of cats.
Working in a high-pressure environment like a restaurant, the lessened stress is certainly appreciated!
Great Way to Earn Extra Income
Owning a cat café affords you plenty of opportunities to bring in some extra income. You can charge a cover to get in or charge for the hour to spend time with the cats.
In addition, you’re also charging the regular fees for your food and drink just as any other café or restaurant would.
Caring for Cats Is Simpler Than Dogs
Although it can be expensive to care for cats in great numbers, you won’t have your work cut out for you like you would a dog.
Cats can bathe themselves, so that’s one less task for you to do. A cat can also use its litter box when it has to go to the bathroom. You don’t have to have a staff member on hand always available to take them out like you would with a dog.
You still have to dump the litter box every day, probably several times a day, but otherwise, the time you’ll win back can be put towards other areas of managing the cat café.
Could Help Cats Find Their Furrever Homes
We saved what is by far the biggest advantage for last.
Many cat cafés will have adoption events featuring some or all the cats. Your regulars who have bonded with the cats could be the ones to provide a suitable furrever home. You’ll feel good that the cats are going to the right places.
Cat cafés are quite popular, especially in Asia where they first cropped up but in the US as well. Before you jump head-on into cat café ownership, keep in mind that there are a lot of pros and cons to weigh seriously. We hope this guide will help you with your decision-making!