Purrfect Work: Career & Business Ideas for Cat Lovers

By Paula Fitzsimmons

Have you ever thought about turning your passion for cats into paying work or a profitable business, but weren’t quite sure how to make that happen? You may be surprised at the variety of options available to you – and at the number of organizations seeking your passion and special skills.

I know, because opportunities working with cats and other animals regularly get posted on the Animal Jobs Digest jobs page.

The following suggestions can also help if you’re looking for a little inspiration. Just remember that nothing is ever as simple as it appears on paper – especially when it comes to running a business – so do your digging and ask questions.


Sell your creations

Retail is a very competitive business, but your chances of succeeding are improved if your products are unique. Sell what every other online store is selling, and you risk being sucked up in a race-to-the-bottom vortex.

Why just sell your wares to individual consumers? Consider wholesaling them to neighborhood stores and online shops.

For instance, Bungalow 360, maker of animal-themed totes and wallets wholesales their goods to stores like Herbivore Clothing. And if you’re a fan of the Animal Rescue Site, you’ve probably seen Far Fetched‘s fair trade accessories sold there.

What can you create that others can’t easily emulate? Think in terms of items you can make for people as well as for cats.

Still stuck for ideas? Check out the entrepreneurs mentioned in this article from The New York Times – including Just Food For Dogs, a dog catering service (cats deserve to eat great food, too.)


License your art

Rather spend more time developing your craft than running a store? Another option is to license your art to other companies – who apply your art to any number of items, like totes, jewelry, and even jigsaw puzzles. Artist Dean Russo licenses his unique and vibrant animal images, most notably, to The Mountain tees. Other artists who have licensed their cat work include Sue Coccia and Leslie Anderson.

For guidance on the business of art licensing, check out articles by Art Law Journal and Graphic Artists Guild.


Help cats by working for an animal advocacy organization or shelter
Work for a cat welfare organization

Several organizations dedicate themselves specifically to cat welfare – a few of these include Alley Cat Allies, Cat Adoption Team, Stray Cat Alliance, and Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. This is not counting the array of national organizations, like HSUS and ASPCA, that focus their advocacy efforts on all animals, including cats.

Jobs at these organizations vary and can include some of the following – editor, communications specialist, legal assistant, membership assistant, and digital fundraiser, to name just a few.


Serve lattes . . . and save lives

The popular cat cafe trend that began in Eastern Asia has taken off in the United States.The basic premise is that customers come to your store to order refreshments, spend time petting cats, and hopefully adopt one.

It seems like a great way to make a living, but it’s too early to speculate whether or not this is a good business model. There are a lot of things to consider, like expenses, rent, licensing, and cat welfare. Also vigorously research your health and city codes, to avoid getting into a situation like this New York cat cafe owner did.

For guidelines on how to start your own cat cafe, check out Denver Cat Company’s article. More importantly, talk to other cat cafe owners and visit various cafes.


Offer a cat sitter service . . . plus

According to several reports and articles, including “Why One Recession-Proof Industry Just Keeps Growing” published in Forbes, the animal pampering market is growing.

If you’d like to spend your days pampering other people’s cats, consider starting your own cat sitter business. You can even take it up a notch by building a cat hotel, like The Happy Cat Hotel did. The FabJob Guide to Become a Pet Hotel Owner can help you get started. (Please note, this is an affiliate link, so if you make a purchase as a result of clicking this link, I will make a commission.)

For more insights on this field, check out the “2015 Pet-Sitting Industry Forecast”, which you can download for free on the Pet Sitters International website.


Start an information empire
Write about cats

If you like to write or assemble information, consider starting your own information business. Examples of this include creating and selling books and ebooks, writing articles, or maintaining a blog.

It’s essential that you understand your market and have a salable idea. The more tightly you can develop your niche, the better chance at success. What do you know about cats – or are willing to learn – that can be transformed into information people will pay money for?

Don’t just consider consumer markets, either. Can you create products that cater to professional organizations, such as veterinarians or vet techs?

For starting a blog, I highly recommend reading How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul.

(Please note, this is an affiliate link, so if you make a purchase as a result of clicking this link, I will make a commission. You can also try borrowing this book from your local library.)

Another solid source of information for bloggers – both free and paid – is Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger site.


Cute cat
Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match your career options. For instance, you might couple a part-time job at a cat welfare organization with a part-time cat boarding business. Check out “The Freedom of Flexibility” for more thoughts on this.


Work for an animal shelter

There never seems to be a shortage of adoptable cats available at my local animal shelter – and sadly, this scenario is played out nationwide, on a regular basis. The ASPCA says about 3.4 million cats enter shelters nationwide each year, and of these, 1.4 million are euthanized.

Be part of the solution by working at an animal shelter. There are different ways for you to contribute – especially if you work for a larger shelter such as Best Friends Animal Society.

A few example of job titles may include caregiver, program assistant, fundraiser, public relations coordinator, and executive director.


Use your tender touch

A job where you spend your days soothing cats? Doesn’t get much better than that. But before you start, make sure you have the proper credentials, and that you are even eligible to practice. Look at this chart by International Association of Animal Massage & Body Work, and you’ll see that each state has its own legal definition of animal massage is, and who can perform it.

If you’d like to work as a cat masseuse, your best bet is to check the requirements for the state you’d like to work in, then determine your course of training.

Opportunities may be available in vet clinics and hospitals, day care & boarding services, and grooming salons. Or you can try setting up your own business – but be prepared to vigorously market yourself.


Use your passion and skills to make a difference in the lives of cats. Whether you work for a nonprofit organization, or venture out on your own, there is a way for you to contribute.


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