San Diego's first-ever Cat Café has apparently hit a snag, but the owner says the problem can be avoided by just applying a little respect.
The Cat Café opened earlier this month at Third Street and Island Avenue in Downtown San Diego, making it the first of its kind for Southern California and one of only a few that allows children inside.
But that luxury may soon go by the wayside if tiny customers can't learn to be gentle, owner Tony Wang said.
According to a post on the Café's Facebook page, Wang left to pick up supplies for the store and when he returned, he found that people -- specifically children -- were being "less than respectful of the cats." Children were apparently chasing the felines and tugging tails while failing to maintain inside voices.
"We're one of the few cat cafés that actually lets children in, so I'm disappointed that occurred," Wang said. "If I hear another report of that happening, I'm going to have to set a 'no children' policy, which I really don't want to do."
The cats are not just there to entertain and share a little coffee with guests; they can be adopted and taken home.
The Cat Café works in partnership with the San Diego Humane Society, and every cat in the joint is up for adoption. That means, though, they need to be respected, Wang said.
"Obviously working with one of the premier animal rescue organizations, the San Diego Humane Society... we can't have that happening because the welfare of the animals is paramount," Wang said.
But Wang included that after he posted on Facebook about the troubles in the café, dozens of people stepped up and offered to volunteer as room monitors.
Because the animals are all there in search of their forever homes, Wang said it's the perfect opportunity to get to know the animals -- and how to properly treat them -- before deciding to take one home.
"If a child learns here how to play with the animals in a gentle and respectful way, then when you decide to bring an animal home, you won't have any of those issues," Wang said.
The owner continued his emphasis on wanting to keep the café open to children, saying he has seen the bond between child and feline and he doesn't want to take that away.
"There was recently a child here who was developmentally challenged, and the smile on his face while he was playing with one of those cats was just amazing," Wang said. "I don't want to take that away."
Wang's Facebook post urged the same, saying, "Please don't make me do this."
He said the solution is simple: be gentle and respectful and nothing has to change.
"You just need to be respectful of these animals," Wang said. "They're not toys; they are living things, and if you treat them gently and with respect, you children are more than welcome to come in. And I would love to have them here 'cause I have seen some incredible bonds formed between an animal here and the children."