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How to Start A Cat Business: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

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Among the many types of pets, cats are a popular choice due to their independent nature, playful personalities, and adorable appearance. As cat ownership continues to increase, so does the demand for cat-related services and products, turning a cat business into a lucrative business opportunity in recent years. 

From grooming and boarding to creating unique cat toys and accessories, there are endless possibilities for entrepreneurs looking to start a cat business. In this article, we will explore the steps involved in starting a successful cat business to help you start your own.

Outline

Some statistics about the cat business niche in the pet care industry

The global cat litter market was valued at approximately USD 3.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 4.5 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of around 4.8% between 2021 and 2026, according to Zion Market Research

It’s estimated that there are 86.4 million pet cats in the United States, according to American Veterinary Medical Association

On average, cat owners spend $318 per year on food and treats, $128 on supplies and over-the-counter medicine, and $298 on veterinary care, according to American Pet Products Association

Cat business ideas you can try out 

Cat Grooming Services 

With more cat owners seeking professional grooming services for their pets, there is a growing demand for skilled groomers to meet this need. In cat grooming, services you can provide go beyond regular shampooing and hair trimming, you can also offer designer cat hairstyles (dyeing, cutting,..), cat spa services, or nail trimming. 

Let's take a look at Lovely Cuts Pet Grooming, which is a business that offers a variety of services for cats: kitten bath, kitten grooming, cat bath and cat grooming. Each service differs in the amount of scopes: ear cleaning, brushing, dematting, sanitary trim,... Similarly, Pet Love offers mentioned services but with a twist - it’s a chain of salons on wheels and will go to your door! 

Cat Grooming Services

Photo by Reba Spike

Pros 

  • Offer other types of services like nail trimming and dental cleaning
  • Upsell supplements and grooming products for more money

Cons 

  • Requires training and equipment, 
  • This business is physically demanding as you can deal with cats with unexpected behaviors (biting, scratching); inhale cat furs, and stand on your feet for hours,...

This business is suitable for:

  • Experienced pet owners 
  • People with grooming and hair styling skills 

What you need to start this business 

  • Styling tools. You can easily find them on Ebay, Amazon or your local pet supplies store. An hair comb can cost from $6 to $78 while a dryer can cost up to $599
  • Grooming products
  • A location (for on-site services) 

Cat Sitting Services 

Cat sitting provides in-home care for cats while their owners are away, offering a more flexible and comfortable alternative to traditional boarding services. The advantage of cat-sitting services is that cats can stay in their owner's home environment, reducing stress and anxiety caused by unfamiliar surroundings.

Originating from the need to take care of cats while traveling, Meowtel is a service that helps cat owners find verified cat sitters in their area. Their rate card starts from $25 for 20 minutes of in-house cat sitting. 

Cat Sitting Services

Photo by Sarah Pflug

Pros 

  • This business doesn’t require any equipment 
  • Opportunity to offer additional services: home sitting, plant watering, and taking care of other pets,...

Cons 

  • Require you to travel to different homes, depending on the demand so time and travel costs must be included in the service fee 
  • To ensure frequent appointments with customers, you need to build trust with owners and their cats 

This business is suitable for:

  • Pet lovers 
  • Responsible individuals who can commit to timelines 

Cat Food 

As the pet food industry continues to grow and evolve, we realize that starting a pet food business can be a great idea for entrepreneurs who are passionate about animal nutrition and dedicated to providing high-quality products. With the right approach and strategies in place, a pet food business has the potential to be successful and profitable in the long term.

Targeting owners who want their pet to have fresh food, Kennel Kitchen offers high quality cat and dog food made from fresh, locally grown ingredients and made with no fillers or artificial ingredients. 

Cat Food

Photo by Abeer Zaki

Pros 

  • There are many niches to tap in organic cat food, customer-ordered food, fresh food,... 
  • The opportunity to offer subscription food services 

Cons 

  • This business requires significant investment in logistics and transportation (delivery and order fulfillment) 
  • With major companies existing, you will face competition from them as well

This business is suitable for

  • Pet health expert (veterinarians and nutritionists)
  • Cooking lovers 

What you need to start this business

  • Equipment (food processors, mixers, ingredients,...) You can find most equipment at your local electronics store. Depending on the scale of your business, you can either use family-sized equipment or industrial ones to match your order volumes. A must-have equipment is a family food processor, which is at least $18
  • Containers and shipping supplies. They can be found easily at your local grocery store. If you’re business is big enough, contact your local vendor for wholesale container prices 
  • Nutrition knowledge

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    Cat Toys and Accessories Store 

    Besides food and grooming, cat fashion and toys are also essentials for cat owners. There’re many products to cater to such as clothes, collars, shoes, hats, bowties,... You can either produce your own products or find suppliers via wholesalers or drop shipping or print-on-demand companies. 

    To give you an idea, take a look at Cheshire & Wain, a store that sells leather safety collars. The owner started this business when she was searching for new collars for her new cat and was disappointed by the quality and aesthetics of the ones on the market. Another case study is Jackson Galaxy - a store that taps into a need many cat owners have - a toy for self playing so cats can have fun without their owners. 

    Cat Toys and Accessories Store

    Photo by Arina Krasnikova

    Pros 

    • Ability to offer a wide range of products for cats and their owners such as custom collars and clothes as well as interactive toys
    • This business doesn’t require you to interact with cats on a regular basis and is less physically demanding 
    • Can be started online 

    Cons 

    • Requires significant investment in inventory and storage
    • Can be challenging to stand out in a crowded market

    This business is suitable for

    • Fashion lovers, preferably with fashion design and sewing experience 
    • Cat lovers of all experience 

    What you need to start this business

    • Inventory and packing
    • Suppliers 

    Cat Cafe

    Starting a cat cafe can be a great business idea for pet owners and entrepreneurs who want to combine their passion for feline pets with their entrepreneurial spirit. Additionally, partnering with a local animal shelter or rescue organization can also help your cat cafe become a community supporter that helps stray dogs and cats find them forever home.

    As a case study, Denver Cat Company has plenty of activities to keep customers coming back. Being decorated as the warm and cozy living of your house, it offers tarot reading with cat sessions, play dates with cats and cat adoption for local rescued cats. 

    Pros 

    • Potential for additional services such as venue renting or event organizing
    • Potential for increased foot traffic and social media buzz 

    Cons 

    • Require significant investment in facilities, equipment, and staffing and a monthly fee for operation
    • Can be challenging to navigate regulations and health codes

    This business is suitable for

    • Cat lovers with F&B experience 
    • Animal shelters or bloggers seeking to earn more money

    What you need to start this business

    • Permits and license 
    • Considerable funding 
    • Location 
    • POS device 
    • Staff 
    • Recipes 

    Cat photography 

    Cat photography is gaining popularity due to the rise of social media, causing pet owners to need to show off their pets in personalized photoshoots. Another branch of cat photography is commercial shoots, where brands need photographers who specialize in working with feline models. 

    Meet The Cat Photographer - Andrew Marttila, a professional animal photographer specializing in cats. He has been taking photos of cat professional for more than a decade and his work includes selling licensing, commercial shoots and running press.

    Pros 

    • Potential for significant social media following and brand partnerships
    • Flexible working hours with plenty of room for creativity 

    Cons 

    • This cat business can require you to work long hours 
    • Can be challenging to build a large enough customer base and portfolio 

    This business is suitable for

    • Photographers who love animals 
    • Tech-savvy people who love meeting new people and traveling

    What you need to start this business

    • A professional camera 
    • Photography and editing skills 
    • Working with pets skills 

    Cat Supplies Subscription Services 

    Cat supplies subscription services offer a convenient and affordable way for pet owners to receive a regular supply of essential cat products, such as food, litter, and toys, delivered straight to their doorstep every day. By signing up for a subscription service, pet owners can save time and money, and ensure they never run out of their pet's favorite products.

    As an example, MeowBox is a subscription service that sends customers themed boxes containing treats and toys with flexible pricing. Customers can either choose a monthly or bi-monthly subscription with the fixed price of $29.55 and free shipping. 

    Pros 

    • Have a higher customer retention rate as customers are less likely to switch to a competitor if they are satisfied with the service they are receiving.
    • Create a predictable and reliable stream of revenue, as customers will pay for their orders on a regular basis.
    • Provide opportunities for upselling and cross-selling additional products and services to customers, increasing revenue and customer loyalty.

    Cons 

    • Shipping costs can add up quickly, especially if you are offering free shipping to customers. This can eat into your profit margins, especially if you are shipping heavy or bulky items.
    • Maintaining the right inventory levels can be challenging, as you will need to balance the cost of holding excess inventory with the risk of running out of popular items.

    This business is suitable for

    • People with a deep understanding of the needs and preferences of cat owners
    • People who possess strong entrepreneurial skills, including marketing, financial management, and inventory management

    What you need to start this business

    • Inventory management software
    • Storage 
    • Shipping supplies 

    Cat Social Media Personality

    A cat social media personality is a person who manages social media accounts for a cat or cats. The ultimate goal is to build a large following and generate revenue through sponsorships and endorsements. 

    As an animal blogger you would be the person responsible for creating engaging content, interacting with followers, and building a brand around your feline companion(s). Other tasks include maintaining the health of your cats, executing business deals and establishing relationships with businesses and fellow creators for collaboration.

    A shining example of a successful cat social media personality is Nala cat. Adopted from the shelter by her owner, Nala soon became an Internet sensation as her daily photos were shared on Instagram. 

    Nala Cat

    Photo by Nala Cat

    Nala Cat's success on Instagram can be attributed to her unique appearance with adorable eyes and chubby figure, captivating personality, high-quality content, engaging storytelling and active engagement, which have all contributed to her immense popularity and large following. 

    After establishing a few millions of followers and getting endorsement deals, the account opened a business called Love, Nala to sell foods, treats & supplements. 

    If one cat is not enough to impress you, allow us to introduce Sponge Cake, Mocha and Donut - the cat trio known for traveling the world with their owners. 

    Sponge Cake, Mocha and Donut

    Photo from Sponge Cake, Mocha and Donut

    The success behind their success is the decent investment in content creation and their lovely appearance. As they travel the world, we get to tag along as they take us from the USA through Europe - all 3 of them within the same backpack. 

    From this, this account reached success on multiple platforms and gained revenue by selling special harnesses, traveling backpacks and commissions gained from their views. 

    Let's look at some pros and cons of having Cat Social Media Personality: 

    Pros 

    • Offer different ways for monetization through sponsorships, endorsements, and merchandise sales.
    • Provide a creative outlet for producing engaging and entertaining content.
    • Allow you to work from home or anywhere with an internet connection.
    • Offer flexibility in terms of work schedule and workload.

    Cons 

    • Can be time-consuming and require a significant investment of effort to build a following.
    • Can be competitive, with many other cat social media personalities vying for attention and sponsorships.
    • Can be emotionally taxing to manage the pressures of building and maintaining a successful brand.
    • Revenue streams can be unpredictable and subject to fluctuations.
    • Requires a strong commitment to creating and maintaining a consistent brand image and voice

    This business is suitable for

    • People who possess strong entrepreneurial skills, including marketing, financial management, and inventory management

    What you need to start this business

    • Social media literacy and marketing knowledge
    • Equipment (laptop, phone, lenses, camera, lighting, microphones,..)

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      How to identify which cat business is for you?

      If you're passionate about cats and looking to start a business in the feline industry, it can be difficult to know where to start. With so many options available, it's important to take the time to assess your skills and interests, evaluate the market, determine your resources, seek advice and feedback, and test your idea before committing to a full-scale business. Here're a few ways to determine it: 

      Assess your skills and interests

      Ask yourself these questions before making a decision to invest your time and money on a business idea: 

      • Do you have experience in a particular field, such as photography, marketing, retail, pet care?
      • Are you passionate about a particular aspect of cat care, such as nutrition, health care or behavior? 

      By identifying your strengths and passions, you can narrow down the options and focus on ideas that match you best.

      Evaluate the Market

      • Research trends and demands to identify which cat business niche is currently left with little competition and in high demand
      • Read market research reports and observe the landscape near you to see the clear picture 
      • Look for gaps you could fill with your services/products. For instance, if you notice a lack of high-quality, organic cat and dog food and options in your area, you can start selling food made of organic produce. 

      Determine Your Resources 

      • Consider your financial resources and time first. If you’re swimming in debt or not willing to spend more than a few hours a day for a business, it’s probably best not to start it 
      • Some business needs a large sum of money to invest in location, equipment, logistics while other can be run at home with little to no money to kickstart 
      • Be realistic about your budget and what much time you’re willing to spend on a business as well your personal commitments

      Seek Advice and Feedback

      • Talk to other pet owners, cat experts, and potential customers to get feedback, advice and insights. Make sure approach them in a positive and polite manner to pitch your idea
      • Go to cat shows, networking events and join groups on social media to learn from current business owners and seek potential partners 

      Test Your Idea

      • Test your idea on a small scale before investing significant resources. Launching the business to your social circle first to see their reaction. To demonstrate, before launching a cat accessories store, test them out at your local pet shows and pop-up stores 
      • After the trial period, pay close attention to numbers. This will help you calculate actual operating costs and revenue. Not sure how much should you charge? Let our free profit margin calculator help you with determining your price point and margin! 

      Components cat businesses should have to ensure success

      First thing first, has your business got a purr-fect name? Let our free shop name idea generator give you then! 

      Every cat business, whether it is a cat café, cat sitting service, or cat toys and accessories store, should have certain components in place to ensure success. Here are some essential components that every cat business owner should consider:

      Business Plan

      • Write a business plan to define your budget, stages of development and what to invest into your business idea. We recommend this guide by Shopify with 9 steps to write a business plan
      • Make sure to include your vision, target market, competition, pricing, marketing strategy, and financial projections. This plan will guide you through the startup process and help you secure funding if needed.

      Licenses and Permits

      • Obtain specific licenses and permits to satisfy your local authorities’s legal requirements depending on the type of cat business you have
      • Permits may include one or more of the following: 
        • Registering your business with your home state
        • A sales tax license
        • Specific permits for animal care.

      Insurance

      • Protect yourself and your business in the event of an accident or injury involving animals or a customer's cat. 
      • Consider purchasing liability insurance to provide coverage in such cases.

      Regulations and Standards

      • Familiarize yourself with local and national organizations such as the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
      • Set up regulations for your own business to operation according so 

      Quality Products and Services

      • Offer high-quality products and services that meet the needs of the market to ensure the success of your cat business
      • Reevaluate the quality of your offerings regularly with a strict quality control standards such as:
        • Provide your cats with a clean and safe environment
        • Offering nutritious food and treats
        • Use safe and effective grooming products.

      Marketing and Branding

      • Develop a strong brand identity and marketing strategy. This may include: 
        • Website. If you're looking for a website builder that helps you build stunning and high-converting pages, don't forget to try PageFly
        • Social media presence with daily updated content 
        • Participating in community events
      • Establish branding elements into your business, such as 
        • Decoration

      Packaging 

      • Key phrases when interacting with customers 

      Staffing

      • Hiring staff members who share your passion for cats is important for ensuring the success of your company, even better if they're also pet owners. 
      • Provide training for your team to provide excellent animal care and customer service, which is essential for building returning customers

      Tips to grow and promote your cat business

      Running a successful cat business takes more than just providing quality products and services. To grow and promote your business, you need to apply effective marketing strategies that reach a wider audience and encourage repeat business.

      grow and promote your cat business

      Photo by fauxels

      Here are some tips to help you grow and promote your cat business:

      Build an online presence

      In today's digital age, having an online presence is crucial for any business owner. That’s why you should creat a website and social media profiles for your business to showcase your products and service. 

      Among all platforms, Shopify is the optimal way to display your brand and sell products and we recommend using the Stockmart theme to save up on time.

      Stockmart

      Photo by Ashstone Studios

      After setting up your store, building social media presence is equally important as it’s a way for you to interact with your customers and understand their needs. A shining example of an active social media account is Petsmart. Not only can they keep up with an everyday content schedule, they also regularly post funny memes - a gold mine on social media and repost content from pet owners - a free yet effective UGC trigger because everyone loves talking, seeing and taking pictures of their pets. 

       

      Petsmart

      Photo by Petsmart’s Instagram 

      Offer promotions and discounts

      Offering promotions and discounts is a great way to encourage new customers to try your products or services. Consider offering a discount code for first-time customers, creating a loyalty program to reward repeat business, or offering seasonal promotions to generate buzz and drive sales.

      For example, Higooga offers a $20 discount for a hefty priced item - water fountain to drive sales. They even create the FOMO effect with the “only xx items left” format to encourage the purchase behavior even harder.

      Higooga 

      Photo by Higooga

      Another way to distribute your discounts is via a high traffic website. Take Chewy as a case study, not only they distribute coupon codes on Forbes, they also have a dedicated page on their website to announce promo codes, discounts for their customers. 

      Chewy coupons & promo codes

      Photo by Chewy

      Chewy promo codes May 2023

      Photo by Forbes

      Attend events and conferences

      Attending events and conferences related to the cat industry is an excellent way to network with other professionals and promote your business. 

      Look for opportunities to participate in trade shows, animal rescue events, or local pet expos to showcase your products and services and connect with potential customers.

      Take The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) Congress for an example, it’s been running for more than 20 years, connecting professionals committed all over the world with one mutual goal: improving the wellbeing of cats. If you’re a cat food manufacturer, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the industry, update the newest trends and make meaning connections. 

      events and conferences

      Photo by ISFM

      For cat businesses of all niches, attending CatCon is not a bad idea either. It’s an annually hosted 2-day convention for any cat lover, where they meet up in California. Not only is it a pop culture event for cat enthusiasts, it’s also a great opportunity for your business to introduce products directly to customers - the ones who love and spend tons of money for their cats. A popular way to attend is to have a booth and sell your merchandise. You can also be a sponsor for more exposure and of course, this method is more costly. 

      CatCon

      Photo by CatCon

      Conclusion

      In conclusion, starting a cat business can be a fulfilling and rewarding venture for cat lovers. With the growing interest in pet care and the increasing demand for high-quality cat products and services, there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and succeed in this industry. Whether you're looking to turn your love for cats into a full-time career or simply want to pursue a profitable side hustle, there are many different paths you can take in the cat business. What if you’re also a dog lover? Check out this blog to find ideas for dog businesses

      So, if you're thinking about starting a cat business, don't hesitate to pursue your dreams and turn your love for cats into a thriving enterprise. With hard work, dedication, and a little bit of creativity, you can build a successful business and make a difference in the lives of cats and cat lovers everywhere.

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