A Nanaimo woman has a business idea that is really the cat’s meow.
Kelly Whiteside, a local photographer, is hoping to open a cat café in Nanaimo called Kitties and Cream next year, which she said would become Vancouver Island’s first cat café.
Kitties and Cream would have anywhere from 10 to 15 felines that patrons can spend time playing with according to Whiteside, who said the cats would be located in an area known as a cat lounge, which would be separate from where people would consume food and drinks.
“Right now it is in the very early stages,” Whiteside said. “I am just working on branding right now and figuring out the logistics of having cats and foods and drinks together. It is quite the health hazard. So, trying to figure that out is going to take awhile.”
The idea to open a cat café in Nanaimo came to Whiteside while she was travelling throughout Japan. Whiteside said she spoke with a couple of cat café owners, who told her that many of their patrons are people who simply can’t have cats at their home for one reason or another.
“When I was visiting the cat cafés there, I was talking to a few of the owners about what made them so popular and they made some points, such as a lot of the housing units are too small and just don’t allow pets and that a lot of people flock to the cat cafés to hang out with the cats because they can’t have pets at home. That made me think of Nanaimo,” she said. “A lot of landlords are saying no pets and so a lot of people are having to give up their pet or are choosing not to have pets. So, I thought it was a great idea for Nanaimo.”
Whiteside said she will only have cats at Kitties and Cream that get along with each other and are friendly with humans in order to provide a positive experience for everyone. She said she wants to partner with an organization or a humane society that could supply her with cats that could eventually be adopted by patrons.
Although Kitties and Cream has no firm location just yet, Whiteside said she wants it to be located in the Old City Quarter and has looked at a few buildings in the area. She said in addition to ensuring she meets various health and safety standards, finding a building suitable for a cat café has been a bit challenging.
“From my understanding, you essentially have to have a hallway between the cat lounge and the café,” Whiteside said. “Finding a place that meets that expectation is a little bit difficult but I have found some.”
Whiteside said there would be a fee to enter the cat lounge area and patrons will be able to reserve a time slot, a model used by Vancouver’s only cat café, Catfe. If all goes according to plan, Kitties and Cream would open on Aug. 8, which is International Cat Day.
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