*Visit our website!
*Like and follow us on Facebook!
I’m Papa. Since my daughter could speak, she’s called me Papa. And, even though her friends at school are starting to influence her into calling me "Dad," Papa is still my title. Papa is also the nickname of my favorite author, Ernest Hemingway, who also happened to love cats. His estate is still home to over 50 cats. So "Papa's Cat Café" seemed like a perfect name and motif for the café.
My first experience with cat cafés came in 2016 when I visited one in Seoul, South Korea. My family and I could have spent all day there. I couldn’t help thinking how Columbia would be a perfect town for a cat café, with its student population and thriving, eclectic downtown. We’ve watched Columbia grow to be quite the bustling city, but it’s still lacking a cat café!
The concept of the cat café is fairly simple: combine a coffeeshop with the opportunity to play with and/or snuggle cats. However, "combine" may not be the best word. The United States' regulations require the cat playroom to be well separated from any food preparation or sales areas. But, if a person wants to buy coffee or a snack and take their purchase into the playroom, who are we to stop them? Additionally, many cat café in the U.S. partner with a local animal rescue organization, and we will be no different. We are partnering with Boone County Animal Care (BCAC) to populate our café with rescued and adoptable cats. That means, if you meet a kitty you think you'd like to take home, we'll be able to make that happen!
BCAC specializes in the trapping and socializing of feral cats and kittens. We want Papa's to serve as a second stage of socializing these often forgotten cats so that they can find homes. As a result, most of our playroom cats will be younger than one year, making it more of a kitten room than a cat room
At this point, Papa's Cat Café is in the beginning stages of coming to fruition. We are securing as much capital as we can in order to construct and equip the cat café, and we are diligently searching for a place to lease that will approve of our concept (some landlords don't want to lease to a place that houses a dozen or so cats. Who knew?).
Finding a location. This is our main challenge, actually. We must consider more than just cost when it comes to leasing a place. We also need to find a landlord who is willing to rent to a café occupied by a clowder of a dozen or so cats. Also, in a world that is becoming increasingly populated by national-chain coffeeshops, many locations forbid the existence of competing coffeeshops. One perfect site has already rejected us for that very reason. We also want to find a location we hope will be long-term, as it would be challenging to change locations later after building the cat playroom and boundaries walls needed for food sanitation. So, while this is our top challenge, we are continuing our efforts to find a great location that will suit the needs of our customers and, of course, our cats.
Getting funded. Obviously this is a challenge, or we would not be reaching out to you via Kickstarter. First, you should know that we are investing a significant chunk of our life savings into this project, but that will not be enough to open. Secondly, many people have never heard of a cat café, so banks and loan providers are hesitant to fund this growing market. In fact, if you look around Kickstarter, you'll see that most cat cafés have relied on raising some initial capital from Kickstarter campaigns. You'll also see how successful those Kickstarter campaigns have been. So, cat cafés are something people want to visit and want to support. We hope you agree and will support our campaign.
Zoning and health code stuff. As it turns out, this is really a nonexistent challenge for us compared to other cat cafés around the nation who usually spend months working with this issue. We have already discussed local health code concerns with the county health department, and they gave us the green-light to proceed with our business as long as café and playroom are well separated. And, we contacted planning and zoning, submitted our request for zoning certification, and we were quickly zoned as a veterinary hospital. So, both of these important approvals mean we are ALL BUT LOCATION! We hope by detailing our success with this challenge, you see that Columbia really is an ideal place for a cat café, and now we just need to bring it to life.
Risks and challenges
We are still in the process of making sure we know all of the requirements we must meet now that we have been deemed a veterinary hospital by the City of Columbia.
Right now, we know that means we must keep our café within a certain range, make sure everything is easily cleaned and/or sanitized, and that we cannot exceed more than 12 cats per enclosure (which means we can only have 12 cats in the playroom, most likely). While we shouldn't have to worry about medical libraries and on-site oxygen equipment, we are going to do what we need to do to meet the statutes.
And of course, we are opening a coffeeshop (of sorts), which will come with its own set of challenges. One of those challenges is that the world really doesn't need more coffeeshops. However, we can probably all agree that Columbia doesn't have an excess of cat cafés!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)