Cat Race: Oakland, San Francisco Vie for America's First Cat Cafe

Two cities, one idea -- and a whole lot of cats

By Chris Roberts
|  Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014  |  Updated 12:37 PM PDT
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The World Through a Cat's Eyes

The idea of a cat cafe is slowly becoming reality.

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Everyone loves cats. Everyone, except the people who write the permits.

The idea of a cat cafe -- modeled on establishments in Japan where patrons pay to come and cuddle with fine felines -- has been floated in America before, without success.

Now, America's first cat cafe may come to the Bay Area -- and it appears to be a race between San Francisco and Oakland to see which city opens up for the petting business first, according to reports in the East Bay Express, SFist, and the Atlantic Cities.

In San Francisco, the would-be operators of KitTea say they've figured out a way to get regulators to cozy up to the idea, according to reports.

Having a cat cafe is a tough sell for health departments, who have laws on animals near food to worry about, the Atlantic Cities reported. That may have been what kiboshed a cat cafe proposed for Boston last year.

KitTea says they plan to build a wall between the cats and offerings of tea and snacks. Patrons would buy their tea, walk down a hallway, and sip and enjoy in the presence of a meowing bunch.

In Oakland, Cat Town Cafe's petrenpreneurs say they've already locked down funding from Pet Food Express and have been given a green-light from health departments, who want a similar barrier between the food and the felines.

Like the KitTea crew of Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky, Cat Town Cafe have yet to sign a lease on a space -- but are controlling much time and attention of cat lovers on the Web.

They're scouting for a 1,600-square-foot space with room enough for a few dozen cats and cat admirers.

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