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Keeping up with cat-flation and the rising minimum wage

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Latte art in the image of a cat.

The costs of cat care supplies have increased, and the owner of a cat cafe in Florida is looking for alternatives. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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Seven months ago, Angeli Rodriguez of the Witty Whisker Cat Cafe in St. Augustine, Florida, was worried about supply chain hang-ups. Her focus has shifted to balancing expenses and revenue, but rising costs for labor and cat supplies are making that goal elusive.

“The cat food that I had originally purchased, I could go to the supermarket and get it for, like, $16 for a box of 24 cans. And now, it’s over $22 for the same exact thing,” Rodriguez said.

She obviously has no choice but to feed the cats, and cheaper products are hard to come by. So while inflation in cat supplies has pressured her budget, she’s looking to labor costs to make up a small part of the difference.

“We’re also trying to cut a little bit of our labor costs,” she said. “We’re trying to adjust our shifts on our slow days so that we don’t have people sitting there twiddling their thumbs.”

But even with adjusted schedules, Rodriguez has struggled to keep wages competitive in a tight labor market. While competitors are offering upward of $15 an hour, Rodriguez is struggling to maintain pace with Florida’s $11 minimum wage.

“Other places like Taco Bell and Starbucks are hiring at $15 an hour, and I just can’t do that at the moment,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really trying hard to keep up just with the minimum wage hikes that the state is doing.”

Despite expense challenges, Rodriguez is happy with the cafe’s impact. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the cats adopted into happy, healthy homes.

“We’re up to 341 [adoptions] right now, which is awesome,” she said. “And that’s really what I want to do. I just want to help these little guys find good homes.”

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