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Cat Café May Soon Open in San Francisco

San Francisco is no stranger to bizarre attractions- but a new café could soon be the first of its kind to open on US soil. Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky hope to open KitTea, America’s first cat café- a common space where people can enjoy caffeinated beverages in great company. Though the concept seems utterly unique, the idea to combine felines and frappés has been around for nearly two decades.

Origin of Cat Cafés

In 1998, the world’s first cat café opened its doors in Taipei, Taiwan. Since its doors opened, the store’s popularity has inspired visitors from around the globe. In 2004, the trend spread internationally, as Osaka, Japan welcomed the first cat café in the country. It was there that the idea found its greatest success, as it catered to isolated urbanites from cities where living spaces that accommodate pets are rare. Now, only nine years later, more than 39 cat cafés have emerged in Tokyo alone.

This rapid growth was not specific to Japan, as cafés opened across the globe in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Because the majority of the shops that are opening are operated independently, with no unifying franchise, many cafés offer unique variations on the “essential experience.” Many stores welcome other animals, such as rabbits, dogs or goats. Others focus on one variety of cat, such as black cats, rare breeds, or recue cats. Despite the wide variety, most cafés operate in a similar fashion. These establishments generally charge their patrons just to enter the premises. Though most stores charge customers to stay in the building by the hour, some stores may charge by intervals as short as 10 minutes. Additionally, this fee does not include the cost of the tea, requiring that patrons pay additional amounts to enjoy a beverage.

Potential Challenges

Due to the nature of these enterprises, each cat café must meet certain standards of animal care while ensuring that they do not compromise the conditions required to serve food and drinks. Keeping live animals in a restaurant is a violation of health codes put in place by San Francisco's Department of Public Health. Similar codes prevented another establishment, Miaou, from claiming the title as America’s first cat café in 2013.

Though Miao’s efforts seemed to have hit a standstill, the KitTea team is confident that their efforts will be successful. KitTea aims to meet health codes by separating the cat lounge and the restaurant area. The cat lounge will include amenities such as litter boxes and scratching posts that cater to the needs of the felines as a group and as individuals; meanwhile, the restaurant area will be a cat-free environment to create drinks for patrons before they interact with the cats.

The question still remains as to how distinct these two areas must be in order to meet requirements. Once the question is resolved, the common area that most closely meets the role of "cat café" can be further developed. However, even if this problem is resolved, KitTea still must ensure that it is able to provide adequate care for each cat.

Helping Cats

According to their website, KitTea plans to go above and beyond the call of duty in terms of caring for their cats. KitTea is looking to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians to populate its café and even plans to use their business as a way to facilitate adoptions. They will also ensure that the cats are safe by regulating the number of people permitted in the common area at one time.

The number of cats that will inhabit KitTea’s private cat space and common area will also be regulated to ensure that the space fits all cats comfortably. Currently, it is expected that the space will be at least 1,600 square feet and accommodate between 30 and 35 cats. The space will also provide natural sunlight and free-flowing, clean water.

What do you think about the new café? Would you pay a bit extra for some feline company with your drinks? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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