Purrfectly Profitable. How Cat Cafes Bring in the Big Bucks

A cat café is a café that also serves as an adoption center and safe haven for rescue cats. The concept originated in Taiwan in the late 1990s before spreading to Japan, where it became popular. The first cat café opened in the United States in 2014.

The typical cat café business model involves charging an admission fee for customers to enter and interact with cats roaming freely throughout the café. Food, beverages, and retail merchandise are also sold to generate additional revenue. The cats, provided by a partner animal shelter or rescue organization, are available for adoption by customers. Cat cafés aim to provide a relaxing, home-like environment for the cats while facilitating adoptions.

Admission Fees

One of the main ways cat cafes generate revenue is by charging customers an admission or entry fee to access the cat lounge area. According to Cat Café San Diego, most cat cafes charge anywhere from $5 to $15 for 30 minutes to one hour of access to the cat lounge. The fee grants customers time to interact and play with the cats.

The amount charged for admission varies by location. For example, Right Meow Cat Café in Illinois charges $12 per adult for one hour access on weekdays and $15 on weekends and holidays. The Fat Cat Café in Florida charges $10 for one hour. Cat cafes in larger cities like New York and San Francisco tend to charge on the higher end, around $15 per session.

customer paying admission fee at cat cafe entrance

The admission or entry fee provides the majority of revenue for most cat cafes. It covers costs of cat care and facilities while also supporting the café’s mission of cat adoption and welfare. Some cafes offer memberships or packages to encourage repeat visits from cat lovers.

Food and Beverage Sales

One of the main revenue streams for cat cafes is food and beverage sales. Cafes typically offer a menu of breakfast foods, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, tea, soft drinks and other casual cafe fare. According to https://stepbystepbusiness.com/business-ideas/start-a-cat-cafe/, food sales should aim for a 35% profit margin after accounting for ingredient costs.

Many cat cafes partner with local bakeries and coffee roasters to provide high-quality offerings without having extensive food preparation on-site. Developing relationships with vendors can help secure wholesale pricing on ingredients. The cafe menu prices should be set based on typical cafe price points in that geographic area.

In addition to sit-down dining and take-out, cat cafes can boost revenue by offering catering for events and celebrations. Overall, the food and beverage component can make up 25-35% of total sales for a cat cafe.

Retail Sales

Cat cafes can generate revenue by selling cat-themed merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, and other novelty items. According to Cat Cafe Sales and Profitability Strategies, cat-themed retail items have high profit margins and are popular souvenirs for customers to purchase during their visit. In addition to merchandise, cat cafes can sell cat treats, toys, grooming supplies, food, and other pet products on-site. Stocking high-quality cat goods can attract local cat owners to shop at the cafe even when they aren’t there just to visit the cats. Some items like treats and toys may also be purchased for the resident cats housed at the cafe. Overall, retail sales of merchandise and pet supplies represents an additional revenue stream for cat cafes on top of the admission fees and food/beverage sales.


Many cat cafes generate revenue by renting out their space for special events and private parties. Their unique environment provides a fun and memorable setting for birthdays, corporate events, showers, and more. Cat cafes will close to the public for a few hours to host the private event.

Since most cat cafes are small in size, the maximum event attendance is usually under 30 people. Rental fees vary but often start at $100-200 per hour, with minimum rental periods of 2-3 hours. Additional fees may apply for services like food/beverages and staffing. The cat cafe provides the space, cats, and activities, while the event host can bring in outside food, decor, etc.

children's birthday party at cat cafe

Cat cafes are especially popular for children’s birthday parties. Kids get to play with the cats and enjoy a unique party their friends will remember. For corporate clients, a cat cafe rental can make for a fun and creative team building event to boost morale. Showers at cat cafes also give guests a lively activity to entertain them.

The huge appeal of these events is getting exclusive access to all the cats, since regular public hours often limit playtime. The animals themselves help attract renters and allow cat cafes to charge premium rental rates. While rental income will vary month to month, it provides a lucrative revenue stream in addition to the cafe’s daily business.


Many cat cafes offer monthly or annual membership passes that provide unlimited visits and other perks. For example, Felius Cat Cafe & Rescue offers monthly cat play memberships for $35/month which includes unlimited 30-60 minute play sessions.

Other cat cafes like Whiskers Cat Café offer tiered membership options such as an annual pass for $200 or a monthly duo pass for $26/month which covers two people and includes lounge visits and coffee. Membership perks often include free or discounted food/drinks and retail store discounts.

For regular customers, memberships can provide a more affordable option than paying a cover charge each visit. The recurring revenue helps provide financial stability for cat cafes as well. Many cat cafe customers enjoy becoming members to support cat rescues and have unlimited playtime with adoptable cats.


Many cat cafes allow patrons to sponsor individual cats for a monthly fee, such as $20-25. This provides a source of recurring revenue. According to Mew Haven Cat Cafe, sponsorships allow people who cannot adopt to support a cat’s care and expenses. Sponsors receive updates and photos of their sponsored cat. Other cafes like Mt. Purrnon Cat Cafe note sponsorships help cover food, litter, and medical expenses. Whiskers Cat Café uses sponsorship funds for supplies to care for 20+ adoptable cats.

cat lounge sponsored by pet food brand

Cat cafes may also obtain sponsorships from pet brands. Companies can sponsor the cafe itself or individual resident cats. In exchange, the cafe provides advertising and promotion for the brand. This creates a mutually beneficial marketing opportunity. Resident cats can showcase products like food, treats, beds, and toys. Pet brands gain exposure to cat lovers who actively spend on cat products and care.


Cat cafes can host fundraisers to benefit local animal shelters and rescue organizations. These events help raise money and awareness for cat adoption and welfare. The cafe may donate a portion of admission fees or sales from a particular day to the organization. They can also hold special events like “yoga with cats” classes, cat-themed craft workshops, or game nights with an entrance fee that goes to the rescue group. Some cafes allow the organization to set up an information table to promote adoptions. People who come to play with the cats end up learning more about rescues and adopting shelter cats. Successful fundraisers require coordinating with the shelter to find the most impactful way to partner.


Many cat cafes operate as franchises, allowing entrepreneurs to open their own cat cafe with the branding, support, and resources of the larger company. Franchising provides a lower risk way for individuals to start their own cat cafe business compared to independently starting one from scratch. The cat cafe franchisor typically provides training, cat care protocols, marketing materials, menu creation, and more to franchisees for an initial franchise fee and ongoing royalty payments (Source). Some popular cat cafe franchises include Catfeine, Crumbs & Whiskers, and Purrfect Cat Cafe. Franchise fees can range from $35,000 to $75,000, with an ongoing royalty fee around 6% of gross sales. The franchisor profits by selling multiple franchises while the franchisees operate the day-to-day business of each cat cafe location.


Cat cafes offer a unique experience by combining food and beverage services with interactions with cats. Their business model relies on multiple revenue streams rather than a single source. Admission and membership fees, food and retail sales, sponsorships, and even franchising fees allow cat cafes to profit. However, the cafes also face challenges such as pet care costs and health regulations. The future growth of cat cafes depends on their ability to expand their customer base while providing quality care for their cats.

The cafes must strike a balance between profitability and animal welfare. With proper business planning and management, cat cafes can potentially continue spreading while delighting cat lovers. However, they must ensure the wellbeing of their cats comes first. As a niche concept, cat cafes may remain limited compared to traditional cafes. But for cat lovers, they provide a purr-fect way to combine dining with quality cat interaction.

cat relaxing at cat cafe

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