Cat lovers may soon have a new place to mix and mingle.
Two separate organizations are developing plans to open America’s first cat café this summer in northern California. And while the intention of these cat cafes is to increase adoptions, mixing felines with food is also proving to be a tricky line to walk.
“The café is a fun vehicle for getting more cats out of the shelter and adopted into great homes,” Adam Myatt, who is working to open Cat Town Café in Oakland, Cali., told TODAY.com. Myatt currently works for the non-profit cat rescue organization Cat Town, and believes that opening a friendly café with cats will provide a place for people to get to know the animals in a more positive environment.
“We know people care about cats and want to help them, but most won’t go to a shelter because they think the experience will be too depressing,” he said.
Courtney Hatt, agrees, and is working to open her own similar establishment in San Francisco, KitTea, which will have food from local businesses and 10 rotating cats from nearby shelters.
“Any animal that is cooped up in a small space and a stressful environment is going to have a completely different personality once they are given stability and more room to play and be an animal,” she said.
While the idea has been a success in countries like Japan and China, opening a cat café stateside has yet to be seen due to the country’s strict health regulations.
Myatt and Hatt are working closely with local health regulators to figure out how to bring cats in without violating codes. For example, there has to be sufficient distance between the cats and the eating area, and food cannot be prepared on site. Both are optimistic that such a balance can be reached, and that cat cafes will be a hot spot for both locals and cat lovers across the country. Hatt has already fielded inquiries from people around the country wanting to come volunteer at KitTea.
“We knew cats were pretty awesome, but we didn’t think it would reach a national level!”