Small Business

Purrfect profits: 2-month wait for NY’s 1st cat cafe

Window of the Meow Parlour
Kerima Greene | CNBC

It might be a dog-eat-dog world on Wall Street, but cats rule the day in one trendy New York neighborhood.

Meow Parlour is a new patisserie on the Lower East Side that allows visitors to pet and hold dozens of adoptable felines while sipping organic coffee, tea and "cat-shaped" cookies.

Four dollars for a half-hour buys time for cuddling and nuzzling resident cats that roam the compact space, complete with lounge areas, benches, pillows and toys.

Cats playing at the Meow Parlour
Ethan Covey | Meow Parlour

Intrigued by the popularity of cat cafes in Paris and Tokyo, co-owner Christina Ha decided to launch the cat café last December, just around the corner from her existing bakery, Meow ParlourPatisserie

"My co-worker, Emilie Legrand, and I are obsessed with cats. We talk about them all day long. I own four, Pickle, Putty, Bobo and Mr. Socks. Since cats are such a big part of my life, it made sense to expand our bakery concept to include our feline friends. One day, Emilie and I just looked at each other and a light bulb went off," Ha said. "The next thing you know, Meow Parlour was born."

Think of it as the 'purr-fect' therapy for stressed-out office workers. There's even free WiFi so you can work while your furry companion cat naps on your lap.

Pet lifestyle expert Wendy Diamond, president and founder of Animal Fair Media, said cat cafes are an ideal solution for urban dwellers who can't keep pets in their cramped apartments.

Interior of Meow Parlour
Christa Hamilton Photography | Meow Parlour

"This is the purr-fect business opportunity. People would rather adopt a cat in a cafe than a shelter! Cats are definitely cleaner than most people, and you don't have to worry about mice running around, which is a huge meow in big cities like NYC," Diamond said.

Reservations have been sold out for months, and there is currently a two-month waiting list to visit. Despite Meow Parlour's success, Ha said there are currently no plans to expand or franchise.

But given the popularity of animal cafes overseas, Ha might soon change her mind. London's first owl and cocktail pop-up cafe sold out within minutes. Japan boasts dozens of cat, dog, parrot, rabbit, reptile, goat cafes. There's even an all-black cat cafe in Himeji and four penguin bars in Tokyo.

Perhaps the most unusual is in Seoul, South Korea, which claims the world's only sheep cafe.

Meanwhile back at Meow Parlour, the lengthy wait list has not scared off one hopeful visitor, Laure Woods, who believes she has a sure-fire way to score a reservation with her daughter, Lexi.

"I'll just stare at the window for an hour or two. Maybe by then one of the cats will open the door and let me inside," she said.

—CNBC's Katie Iacovella and Brian Dorr contributed to this report.