Posted 28 January 2016
It was a couple years ago that I first heard about the idea of cat cafes. As a lifelong cat lover, the idea immediately appealed to me.
Cat cafes have been around for years in Asia and Europe, where health codes are much more forgiving of animals being in places where food is served. According to Wikipedia:
Cat cafés are quite popular in Japan, with Tokyo being home to at least 39 cat cafés. The first was Cat’s Store (Neko no Mise), by Norimasa Hanada, which opened in 2005. The popularity of cat cafés in Japan is attributed to many apartments forbidding pets, and to cats providing relaxing companionship in what may otherwise be a stressful and lonesome urban life.
In the U.S., it has been a challenge to open cat cafes, due to the prohibition on, well, cats in cafes. The solution is actually pretty simple: the cats just need a room that is entirely separate from the cafe. If you choose to buy some tea in the cafe and take it into the cat room, that is your choice; the cat room is not subject to the health codes of the cafe.
Cofounders Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky, with lots of crowdfunding backers and a lot of persistence, worked on creating KitTea in San Francisco starting in early 2014.
The cafe opened in mid-2015, and it seems to be doing well. You can stop by any time and get some tea and look at the cats through the big window, but you should make a reservation if you want to go into the cat lounge.
KitTea was a very friendly place when Irene and I visited in November. Their primary goal is to find homes for cats, but they also pay attention to creating a fun experience for the cats and the people.
KitTea is at 96 Gough St. in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley.