MASSACHUSETTS – Cat people may be able to finally rejoice! The hub of the universe may finally be seeing its first cat cafe by early next year.
PURR Cat Cafe would be a place for people to mingle with and potentially adopt shelter cats. Patrons would simply pay an hourly fee and be able to enjoy snacks and drinks as well.
Diane Kelly, who lives in Hull, stated she’s already spent around $25,000 hiring a designer to create her website and merchandising, an architect, a broker, and a lawyer to navigate the permitting and zoning process. She now just needs to sign a lease on a space, which she’s in negotiations to do soon, Kelly claims. Comments under a June 16 post on PURR’s Facebook profile suggest the location they are eyeing is in Brighton.
“Property owners didn’t think [a cat cafe] could generate enough profit to pay the rent,” Kelly stated. “But I wouldn’t invest this much if I didn’t think it would be successful.”
There have been two previously failed local attempts to begin cat cafes in Boston. Back in 2014, a graduate student tried to crowd-fund a cafe called Le Chat Noir, but fell short of reaching her $65,000 goal. And in 2013, there was some discussion of another cafe called Miaou Boston, but the business’s Facebook and Twitter accounts suddenly one day just disappeared!
Once Kelly secures a good location, the business would then be subject to all city approvals as far as permits, zoning regulations, and other community outreach requirements.
No one has ever gotten as far as filing to have a cat cafe within city limits, stated William “Buddy” Christopher, who is commissioner of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.
“Obviously, she has to apply for her permit,” Christopher explained. “Depending on where in the city she is, she’ll have to come in to us and explain what her business operation is, and then we’ll go through the process.”
Christopher’s primary concern is whether or not food would be prepared on-site. Kelly’s plan is to partner up with a local bakery to prepare and deliver coffee and baked goods to avoid any contamination.
As for cost, she’s looking at charging somewhere between $12 and $15 an hour aside from adoption fees. Kelly went on to say the average price for a cat cafe ranges between $10 and $25 an hour. She’s hoping to be open seven days each week and is already in talks with two shelters who could be providing the kitties. She also plans to host events like yoga, lectures, movie nights, and speed dating to motivate the community to adopt the space and the cats as their own.
The 49-year-old left the medical field after working 27 years in cardiac ultrasound in order to pursue her dream of starting her own business. Her original idea was to take over a dog grooming franchise down in North Carolina, but she heard about cat cafes on the ABC show “Shark Tank.”
“When I first started looking I thought: Am I crazy? Can I really make a living off a cat cafe?” Kelly admitted. “And then I did research and I realized I could.”
After visiting two cat cafes herself, Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, D.C., and Little Lions in New York’s SoHo, she absolutely fell in love with the concept — and a cat named Gus, whom she took home.
The feline-based businesses all began in Taiwan, jumped into Japan, and have recently popped up in more than a handful of cities around the world. Back in 2014, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium opened in London with 7,000 reservations already lined up. In 2014, Cat Town in Oakland, Calif., began the very first cat cafe in America. Between its foster program and the cafe, it has rescued in upwards of 1,100 cats, according to its website.
Kelly hopes now this third cat cafe attempt in Boston will indeed b the charm.
PURR Cat Cafe already has way more than 1,200 followers on Facebook.
She hopes these and other fans will quickly be drawn to spend time at a cafe full of adoptable pets in a way they never would at a shelter.
“It’s a lot more pleasant,” Kelly concluded. “The cats are not in cages. They can roam around. It’s a much nicer atmosphere.”