Sixty students interested in volunteering so far

DUB blogger’s cat café idea becomes business plan

Photo: Pexels

“Let’s turn the campus into a purr-adise,” says a flyer that was recently pinned all around campus, inviting other students to “join paws” with Chiara. In September, she published a blog on DUB saying that a cat café would contribute to the wellbeing of the UU student community. After all, a recent study with university students in the US showed that petting animals can reduce negative emotions related to stress. 

It was just an idea, but Bianca Meyer, Community Manager at the Centre for Entrepreneurship, took it seriously and proposed to help Chiara get it off the ground. 

Ten students from all over the university have joined her, one of whom is studying Economics & Business Economics and is helping her draft a business plan. Together, the group will organise a series of bake sales to collect funds for the project. These events will be promoted on future Instagram and TikTok accounts, where they also intend to inform followers about all steps of the process. 

If all goes well, Chiara says the café could open in the second block of the next academic year. But, first, they need to secure a location. “The old Primera building would be a perfect spot as it’s huge and basically in front of the library. However, we would need money to rent it and decorate it." It is not yet certain that Chiara and her team will secure the spot. In 2023, the university said that the boards of student organisations in the Pnyx building could move to the building formerly occupied by Primera. 

Apart from the bake sales, the Welcome Week Committee has allowed the group to take the stage for a few minutes and tell first-year students about the project in September. 

A WhatsApp group has been created for those interested in volunteering or helping out somehow. It currently has 60 members.

How it would work
About 90 percent of the personnel would be volunteers, explains Chiara. She hopes that students from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will be interested. “They will probably get more in contact with cats and dogs in their careers than horses and cows.” She also hopes that the faculty will help the project at a medical level.

Someone would also have to check on the cats in the evening, so students who live at Science Park would be required. “We’re looking into paying them for this, but we can’t offer much.”

Chiara would like to have four cats in the space. They would come from an organisation that rescues stray cats in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, and then finds them a home in the Netherlands. Students and employees interested in adopting cats from the café would be able to do so. “It would be great to give them a stable home,” says Chiara. In this case, the café would get another cat from the organisation to replace the one that’s been adopted.

To avoid overwhelming the cats, the space would also have a separate room where cats could get some privacy when they feel like it.

Vending machines would provide the food and students would be allowed to bring their own snacks inside as well. “However, our coffee machine must be top-notch! It must be much better than the coffee UU offers in its current machines.” Chiara didn’t attend the coffee bean tasting held last week. Volunteers would also bake goods to sell there from time to time. 

Furthermore, the team is considering contacting supermarkets and bakeries to investigate the possibility of a “too good to go” model, in which products would be sold for reduced prices at the end of the day.

Chiara will document her entrepreneurship journey with a series of blogs on UU’s website. She will continue to blog for DUB as well.