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Old 03.04.2020, 01:08
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Re: Cat Cafe

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Runningwatur, have you ever run a cafe before?

It's a difficult business to begin with, many fail in the first year or two.

I'm curious as to why you would then choose a controversial model that burdens you with extraordinarily high regulatory hurdles, higher start up and running costs, and almost guarantees you a negative reputation with a segment of the customer base you are presumably hoping to attract.

If you are looking for a 'hook' to differentiate your cafe from the thousands of others that are your competition, there are better ideas out there without the animal exploitation concerns.

If you are looking to help homeless cats, there are far better ways that follow animal welfare guidelines.

So why a cat cafe?
Meloncollie, I have no experience running a cafe and I have been reading that it is quite a difficult specially in Switzerland. Other than growing up taking care of animals, I have been fostering cats for 2 years (not private pets) and been helping animal NGOs specifically for cats for over 3 years.

The reason why I wanted to look into Cat cafe might be cliche (or BS for others), I always wanted to work with cats and start a full time profession there at the same time help animal shelters. Being able to visit a few cat cafes in Asia made me realize that a Cat Cafe might be what I have been looking for. I believe Cat Cafes can be beneficial to the community if done correctly.

Researching, reading and having insights from this thread gave me a lot to think about as it is a very controversial model and the costs are very high but I am still looking into it as I believe Cat cafes is a form of fostering (which I am already doing) but a step up by having more potential adopters and raising awareness. Animal welfare guidelines are very strict, but I think it would also be possible to have a fully compliant cat cafe.
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Old 03.04.2020, 01:39
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Re: Cat Cafe

Personally, I still can't really see how letting random strangers touch animals one has rescued from possibly traumatic situations could be in any way animal-friendly, but perhaps I just don't understand the concept.

Even so, @Runningwatur, I'd like to offer you this advice (from experience, though not from a cat café): to start with, try to mentally separate the two worlds, (café and animal rescue) and learn about them each, separately, in the Swiss context. And thereafter see whether they can be combined.

To run a business of any sort, here, you either need to have a good command of the local language, or a trusted business partner. Therefore, if your local Swiss language skills are not already very good, the best thing you can do for yourself, now, is to practice those. After all, you'll have to be dealing with regulations and contracts of all sorts, including a landlord and the caretaker, health and safety officer, accountant, tax authorities, electricians, carpenters, painters, also suppliers of refrigerators, coffee-machines, foods and cleaning/hygiene materials, deliveries, your own big shopping, and staff and customers.

Even if you already do speak a local Swiss language, read up about the ways in which the regulations for such matters work, and how to make the contracts and payments. Study those. Know which documentation you'll need, and how to be sure that you'll be able to fulfil all that is required. Do mock cost calculations. Be conservative. Plan a safe reserve to carry you through low-income months. Think about how to build up customer loyalty.

Once the Corona restrictions are lifted, try to find yourself a job in a café. You might find that it is easier to do this if you are willing to work for free. There are some ideas about that, and about starting a food business altogether (in that case a gelateria) on this thread: https://www.englishforum.ch/business...-you-help.html

If you find you love the café, and get a buzz out of going there in the morning and feel tired but content when you lock up in the evening, if you don't feel that the paperwork overwhelming, if you find that you're good at setting up the necessary connections... you'll at least know that "café" is a project for you. And then you can decide whether you could or should incorporate animals into that.

If, on the other hand, by working for free for someone else's café, learning, learning, learning about as many aspects as that person will teach you, you feel that it is actually rather boring, or stressful, or insecure, or physically tiring or a mental strain, or you find the staff members or the customers annoying... you'll know that you should shift your yearning to help animals into some other animal project.

And parallel to all that, continue to do the research you're already doing, about the animal welfare guidelines. Once you know the running of a café inside out, you'll be in a much better position to decide whether, in a Swiss context, a cat café might work, and what you'd have to look out for.

That's my suggestion to you of a way to approach your research, and I hope it helps you.

Last edited by doropfiz; 03.04.2020 at 02:26.
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Old 03.04.2020, 02:24
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Re: Cat Cafe

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I believe Cat cafes is a form of fostering (which I am already doing) but a step up by having more potential adopters and raising awareness.
I have to strongly disagree with this. My previous post covers my thoughts on the negative aspects, from inappropriate surroundings, unserious adoption protocol, to animal exploitation.

Honestly, wearing my rescue hat - I would strongly urge you to stop thinking of animal rescue as a potential commercial venture. Using (which in too many cases devolves into abusing) homeless animals to make money is the antithesis of rescue work.

If you really love cats and want to help, get further involved with serious Swiss cat rescue groups.

Do you want to work with animals as a career? Why not pursue the FBA or even Tierpfleger diploma, both official animal carer courses, then work in a Tierheim or other related activity?


German necessary of course.


Take a look at the Job Offers section of the Tierpfleger site; this shows some of the many possibilities you could pursue with official credentials. For instance, there is a current listing for a fascinating job as an animal carer in the 'therapeutic animal park' at a psychiatric clinic. Just an example, there are many different ways to pursue a career that involves caring for animals.

Obviously all these jobs require credentials. There is an option for a 'Quereinsteiger', someone who enters the educational program coming from a different field. That might be an option of interest to someone who already has completed his or her professional education.


Now I'll put on my business person's hat, and toss out a reason why a cat cafe is IMO a bad business idea:

To do adoption correctly, you will have to assess the suitability of the adopter. The cat cafe idea is based on exploiting the 'Jööö süss!' factor, playing on the emotion of the moment, on the cafe customer falling in love with the cats he or she sees milling about. So what happens when your cafe customer falls in love with acat, gets all excited, emotionally invested and wants to adopt but does not pass the adoption assessment? You will likely have angered your cafe customer - and that person will never come back. And will probably bad mouth you to all and sundry.

You have set up two conflicting situations by rolling the adopter under assessment and the customer who expects to have all his or her wishes fulfilled into one. doG knows, managing expectations of potential adopters while maintianing good public relations and welfare practices can mean walking a tightrope within a traditional rescue organization. Add in the customer relationship of a cafe makes that tightrope act an awfully daunting task, with the potential for a public relations debacle.

The kind of person who would go to a cat cafe is likely not very understanding of the ethics of animal rescue or rehoming procedures. If you are going to protect the cats and make sure they end up in suitable homes you are likely to disappoint a number of your customers. Just trawl through the Pet Corner here, there are a few threads where an adopter has been rejected by a rescue and come on to vent their disappointment and anger. Now multiply that by an order of magnitude and you can see how you are bound to generate negative feelings among customers if you are following necessary adoption procedures. And those negative feelings will kill the cafe side of your business.

Yet if you don't follow correct adoption assessment procedures, you become nothing more than a cat dealer. You are not helping cats - quite the opposite.

I hope you continue to try to help homeless animals - but not with this commercial idea. There are far, far, better ways to help.

Last edited by meloncollie; 03.04.2020 at 11:15.
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Old 03.04.2020, 06:38
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Re: Cat Cafe

Perhaps there's space in the world for a Cat Café that doesn't actually have any live cats in the shop, but instead is used as a way to raise money for animal support.

I once knew someone, for example, who ran a Brockenhaus (second-hand shop) and donated the profits to an animal rescue centre. She found a venue with a low rent, and made it known what her purpose was, so that people who approved of her cause donated their goods gladly, some even travelling out of their way to donate to her rather than to any other Brockenhaus. Similarly, customers came to buy specifically from her, because they liked the idea of combining shopping and indirectly donating.

Various charities run Brockenhäuser in that way, more or less structured, with a greater or lesser percentage of their takings going to the cause they support.

Whether this could be a viable commercial project, I don't know. Some Brockenhäuser work with a lot of volunteer workers, some obtain budgets from an organisation, for example to offer work-integration training programmes. The particular shop-owner I knew was already retired and had a sufficient pension when she did that, so she didn't need to make a livable profit from it, just cover her costs, and everything above that she could afford to donate.

The Cat Café could be a regular café for passers-by (and would need to run sustainably based on that), but also spread knowledge about how rescue animal centres work and what they need and don't need, and about adoption procedures, and become known as the "go to" place for the interest-group, a resource centre if you want to meet other humans (but not cats) who know all about such matters, or if you wish to pass on your knowledge to newbies.

If that actually worked, then apart from contributing funds to a rescue centre, the Cat Café could actually spare the resources of the staff in the rescue centres, and prevent the kind of disappointment and frustration of which meloncollie wrote, experienced by willing adopters who don’t understand why their application is deemed unsuitable. I think it’d be rather nice if, in the future, someone might post here: «Hi, I’m new, and I’d like to adopt a rescue cat,» and our immediate response could be: «Get yourself over to the Cat Café. There, while you eat brunch, you can learn about the Swiss (and cantonal) regulations about animals, and how the rescue centres work, and what it actually involves to keep a cat in Switzerland, including planning a budget, learning about insurances, preparing for holidays, etc. If you go through the Cat Café, you’ll save yourself - and the workers at the rescue centre! - quite a lot of trouble. Of course, each rescue centre will still screen you according to their own rules, but at least by starting at the Cat Café you can learn what kinds of factors could make you potentially ineligible, and what kinds of criteria you might be expected to fulfil, before being allowed to adopt.»

Last edited by doropfiz; 05.04.2020 at 22:23. Reason: typo
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