ASTANA – Pet businesses are an emerging trend. While their uniqueness can be both attractive and challenging to find their niche and customers, doing what one loves is one of the key elements of a successful business.
Miki Piki Cat Café founder Aigul Kurmanaliyeva is enthusiastic about running an establishment related to her favourite animal.
“My husband and our children are fond of cats and we always have cats at home. We knew about cat cafés and two years ago when we were in South Korea, we went to the famous animal cafés. We really liked this idea and had a great desire to open a similar café in our city,” said Kurmanaliyeva in an interview for this story.
It took almost two years from inception to opening and the entrepreneurs launched their eatery in July during EXPO 2017.
“We were glad to find this perfect location with a separate entrance and everything here meets our requirements. Then, we immediately bought nine kittens of different breeds. It is important not only to gather cats, but to make them feel comfortable with each other. Our cats grew up together as a family and now they are like brothers and sisters. We named the café after our tenth cat. My son called her Miki Piki and we still do not know what that means,” she said.
Kurmanaliyeva believes their café attracts visitors because they have social friendly cats. They are on cloud nine when people come to them.
“Many people think that this is a café only for children; in fact, it is a café for everyone. Now, we have 15 cats. We have more British Shorthair cats and Scottish Fold cats. There is also an Abyssinian cat, Bengal cat, Elf cat, Exotic Shorthair cat, Kurilian Bobtail cat, Norwegian Forest cat, Maine Coon cat, Oriental cat, Persian cat, Sphynx cats and a Siamese cat,” she noted.
The concept café works as an anti-café with a drink and pastry menu. There is table hockey, a billiards table and piano. The two-hour entrance fee is 2,500 tenge (US$7.50) for adults and 1,500 tenge (US$4.50) for children.
Visitors are not permitted to bring their own pets. Guests are prohibited from running and shouting, because cats are very sensitive and like a quiet environment.
“All our cats are neutered to prevent unwanted behaviour. They have passports and received all mandatory and additional vaccines, because many people come to us and we need to protect them. We keep everything clean and ask visitors to put on shoe covers and treat their hands with an antiseptic. Our café is much more like a kindergarten,” said Kurmanaliyeva.
“Children should learn to play gently with pets. They should know how to pick up and hold pets the right way, otherwise it is not safe to play with them. We try to gather different cat breeds so that our visitors come and get closely acquainted with them. Many people come to work as volunteers and help us to look after the cats. We wanted to create a home environment and a young designer helped us implement this cosy interior. Cats are associated with the house and we have soft carpets and sofas. There’s a separate area for food and drink,” she added.
The café also has a small cat hotel. A passport and vaccinations are required and the cost is 2,000 tenge (US$6) per day.
“Our cats are given gifts and volunteers bring some food. Some visitors have their favourite pets and they come to certain cats. We do not do advertising, as it’s expensive; we promote our café through social media,” she said.
Veterinarians by occupation, the Kurmanaliyeva family was involved for a long time in cow breeding and farming.
“There are some challenges in running this kind of business to achieve self-sufficiency. We have a lot of expenses including food, fillers, vaccines, sterilisation and vitamins. This is more like a social project for us now. Children and students are our regular customers. People also come from neighbouring cities on weekends. We want to collaborate with the city administration and to include our café in Astana’s sightseeing map,” she said.
The company also welcomes new volunteers to join their team.
“Some say that dogs are loyal, but I think cats are also very devoted friends. When we come in the morning, they run to greet us. They are gentle and kind. They have their instincts. They feel people who love cats,” said Kurmanaliyeva.
The café’s hours are 3 p.m.- 9 p.m., weekdays, and it opens at 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Visits should be booked in advance to control the number of guests.
Address: 58A Kabanbai Batyr Street, Building 1.
Contact number: +7 778 347 1277.