Are Cat Cafes Coming to America?

What snuggly attractions do Japan, Korea and several European countries have that the United States doesn’t? Cat cafes. But that’s about to change.

Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky plan to open the nation’s first combination tea house and cat sanctuary in San Francisco. Aptly named KitTea, they envision a space with plenty of natural lighting where patrons can sip tea while stroking a tired tabby or dangling a toy for a playful Persian. And if a customer makes a connection with a certain calico, an adoption is possible.

According to the KitTea website, the business will partner with a local cat rescue shelter to pick about 10 cats that “will be selected based on their personalities and whether they have been socialized to be comfortable around both humans and other cats.” Given Americans’ fondness for both cats and caffeine, why don’t we have a cat cafe already? Health codes are mostly to blame. A Boston cat cafe called Miaou was scheduled to open in 2013 but still hasn’t opened its doors due to issues with having animals in the same facility where food is served.

San Francisco has similar regulations to Boston, but the health department says the cat cafe concept could work if the cats are kept separately from food and beverages — as in a completely different room. KitTea, which is looking for a potential location in Hayes Valley, The Mission or The Lower Haight, says the ideal building would feature two separate sections divided by a closed-off hallway. Patrons would buy their tea in one room and then walk down the hallway to enter the area with free-roaming cats. The two distinct spaces wouldn’t be allowed to share entrances, staff, washrooms or storage spaces, but Hatt says she’s “confident” that the cat cafe will get the approval necessary to start crowdfunding the business.

KitTea plans to open in spring or summer of 2014.

Article by Laura Moss

Photo by Sarah J. Poe

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98 comments

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Magdalena J.
Past Member 1 years ago

Thank you!

Magdalena J.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

I love this idea, but I's have a problem. I would want to stay all day!!

And, then when I got home, my 5 fur balls would have NOTHING to do with me because they would smell the other kitties (LOL)!!

Dale O.

Chinmayee J asked: "This is a great idea, however what happens if a patron gets bitten or scratched?"

Interesting question, but if I am going into a cat café I would imagine most of the cats there are used to being with people. If one worries, avoid going into one. Accidents sometimes happen but I would love a café with a feline touch.

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K.2 years ago

This is one area where I'd actually favor a special carve out (or loophole) to the health code to make this practical. Requiring a hallway separating the food prep area from the place where the customers and the cats comingle would rule out a lot of prospective locations and would be kind of pointless, but the idea that you'd have to have two staffs who are segregated is a killer.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Looove the idea! But they should be homeless cats :)

Rachida El Kaddioui

This is maby a good idea to rehome cats who are in a schelter, come to know your new kitty while drinking your afternoon tea!!

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants2 years ago

it's time for anteater cafes

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog2 years ago

This is a great idea, however what happens if a patron gets bitten or scratched? Also, so many other cats (e.g. grumpy ones) would get excluded from this and might have longer lengths of stay in shelters...however at least it would reduce the load on the shelters, as well as providing a lovely relaxing atmosphere for both patrons and cats - I would definitely visit one of these!