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Sector Spotlight: Catteries

South Africa’s luxury pet industry is growing at a rapid rate, with owners happily spending thousands to pamper their beloved companions.

Owning a cattery is an ideal business for entrepreneurs who are passionate about animals, and now’s a great time to consider owning a more luxurious pet boarding business.

Facts & Figures

  • There are roughly two million cats in South Africa, and 4 million dogs.
  • A well-built cattery should have runs that are around 8 metres by 1.2 metres.
  • A daily standard rate can range from R50 to R250 depending on the quality and services of the cattery.
  • Luxury boutique catteries are becoming more popular in South Africa and can charge up to R500 a night.

A lifestyle business

Catteries are classed as a lifestyle business and you need to have a real passion for looking after animals to break into this industry.

Potential customers will want to see that you and your staff have a genuine love for cats. They must feel comforted that their pet will still enjoy all the care and attention that they would usually get at home.

You also need to have a lot of patience; you may have to take care of animals who are disobedient and lack training.

Remember, a lot of your business will come from repeat custom or through referrals, so you need to make sure you maintain a good relationship with all your clients.

Many catteries are operated as a home-based business, which can have advantages and disadvantages. For entrepreneurs with family commitments, working from home offers you the chance to achieve a work-life balance, without spending time and money commuting.

Luxury boarding

There is a growing demographic of South African’s that are spending thousands of rand to pamper their pets, with some luxury boarding facilities charging between R375 and R500 a night.

These types of facilities offer very high-level amenities such as oak-crafted beds and leather cushions, making the more basic catteries look archaic.

However, the luxury boarding market can vary, and some catteries may simply offer animals spacious shelters and runs or wheat-free feed and treats. You should consider the demographic of people living in the area to determine what type of cattery will be successful.

Research what other catteries are in the area; find out what facilities and services they’re offering and try to offer something different. 

Extra services

Most catteries will provide extras to capitalise on their clients overall spend.

These could range from pet portraits, grooming or behavioural courses. Setting up a shop selling animal products, treats and toys near your counter is also a good idea to encourage your customers to spend more during their visit.

To decide which services to offer your customers, try putting yourself in their shoes and consider what would attract you, as a pet owner.

Speaking to friends, family and pet-owners in your community is also a great way to find out what people want in a good cattery; research online and find out what other pet boarding businesses are offering too.

Also, consider the monetary cost of implementing a service; for example, if you’re going to offer a pet taxi service, you will need a van that has been kitted out with appropriate security cages and a part-time driver that will be able to cover shifts you can’t do yourself.

Licensing and permits

It is essential that you check with your local council the exact regulations you need to abide by to ensure your cattery business is operating correctly.

Each state will have different licensing requirements and there will also be certain by-laws that will stipulate how you should maintain your cattery business and dispose of waste, etc.

The City of Cape Town has an Animal By-law (2010) which states that all kennels and cattery enclosures must be constructed of durable materials, with adequate access for cleaning and disinfecting.

The by-law also states that separate isolation facilities for sick dogs and cats should be provided to the satisfaction of the council.

If you are a home-owner who is keen to build a cattery business on your land, it may be worth hiring a planning consultant. They will have experience in dealing with the council and the knowledge on how to submit a solid planning application that could put you in a strong position of being approved.

Krystena Griffin

About the author

Krystena Griffin writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.