San Francisco Poised to Get Its Own Cat Cafe

Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky have a plan. It’s a glorious plan: imagine going to a tea house where up to ten cats roam around, mingling with the guests and providing some much-needed animal therapy to cat lovers, people who can’t have pets at home and those who just want a slightly off-beat experience. KitTea, proposed for San Francisco, will be offering homeless cats a forever home, and creating a “retreat where cats and people can hang out to the benefit of both.” Sign me up and pass the oolong.

Cat cafes have long been a trend in Japan, where many leases are highly restrictive and don’t allow pets. Japanese patrons can drink tea and other beverages, eat snacks and socialize with friendly cats who can choose to take a break when they get tired of human interactions or they just want a nap. Hatt and Braginsky were inspired by the idea of creating a space for socialization for both people and cats in the Bay Area, a locale where it sometimes seems hard to surprise people when it comes to creative and interesting venues.

They’re not just about opening a gimmicky teahouse in a city with a growing number of teahouses, though. They also have a commitment to helping homeless cats find a space to call home for life — and that’s when the idea of a shelter cat-oriented cat cafe was born. Working under guidelines from the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and with advice from veterinarians and animal behaviorists, they’re working to establish a place that acts as a haven for the cats who will be calling it home.

Since the United States has a very active animal welfare and activism community, especially when it comes to cat lovers, it’s no surprise that they’ve published their detailed guidelines for the welfare of the cats and stressed that the happiness and health of the cats comes first. There will be a felines only room for cats who need a break, along with play areas so cats can get lots of environmental enrichment from toys and scratching posts. The cafe owners are committed to making sure escape artists are secured, and to providing their four-legged employees with ample benefits. The focus on keeping the environment uncrowded and calm for the cats as well as the people is one reason why they’ll be recommending reservations.

Currently, Hatt and Braginsky are seeking a location for the cat cafe and working on permits, as well as partnering with a local shelter to start identifying candidates for KitTea. They’re looking for cats who are socialized and comfortable alongside other cats as well as people, who deserve a second chance at life instead of a sentence to life in a cage. While most Bay Area shelters work very hard to avoid euthanizing healthy and placeable animals, some spend a long time waiting for placements, especially in the case of older cats — KitTea may just provide a chance to get out of the shelter environment before they start developing depression, behavioral problems and other issues that might force shelter employees to classify them as unadoptable.

The estimated opening date isn’t until summer 2014, but shelter cats can use some love and affection any time. If you need to get some kitty cuddles in, contact your local animal shelter to see if they need volunteers for cat socialization and play; it can be a great way to help shelter animals and spend time with cats if your lease, housemates, or busy lifestyle doesn’t allow you to adopt a friend of your own.

Photo credit: Rie H..


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Kamia T.
Kamia T.2 years ago

I like the idea, because many apartments in San Francisco are extremely small and confining and don't accommodate pets well. I'm not sure how they'll comply with strict health code requirements that pets not be anywhere around food preparation, and I'd want a HUGE liability insurance policy because California is also suit-crazy, but still interesting.

Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you CHRISTINE. I invite you to our parisian-cat-café when you come to Paris.

Christine Stewart

I think this is a great idea- it might help more people understand cats- many people who think they "don't like cats" change their mind once they really get to know one! And LISETTE R.- please ignore the occasional grumpy people you encounter on care2- we can't get rid of them ;-D

Linda Ward
Linda Ward2 years ago

I've always loved this idea. My hubby won't allow me to have a cat, so I have to find other ways to get my kitty fix.

Anne B.
Anne B.2 years ago

I like the idea as long as caring for the cats' welfare is very high on the owners' set of my experience, cats who have been socialized well do not generally strike out at people unless the cats have been provoked...

Mary T.
Mary T.2 years ago

thanks for the about the cafe in the Chronicle; can visit the cafe during work hours when I can't see my cats.

Past Member 2 years ago

Excuse my English, I meant "breed", you could make the correction yourself; moreover it was a tiping mistake morethan a language mistake. The fact remains the same: there is a big traffic of cats and dogs in allkinds of forms in Asia; my students confirmed that.

I already wrote before (yesterday) that I apologize in advance if I make mistakes in English. English is not the mother tongue of the whole world. And I am asking you: how is your French ???

It is true that cats can get angry when they want to be left alone. But before they bite and scratch to the point that is is an injury, you really have to bother them a lot.
I hope that my poor English is yet beeing understood ?

Bill C.
Bill C.2 years ago

LISETTE I had 3 Siamese all my adult life and they will grab you if they are tired of you petting them

I like cats, like dogs but a cat will bop you when it damn well pleases

Bill C.
Bill C.2 years ago

sorry LISETTE bread is a food

perhaps you and John eat at the same restaurant

But Freud loves a typo