Feb. 10, 2014 at 2:52 PM ET
Cat fans may soon have a new place to mix, mingle and enjoy some coffee.
Two separate organizations are developing plans to open America’s first cat cafés. And while the intention of these feline-friendly establishments is to increase adoptions, mixing homeless pets with food is 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 co-founding Cat Town Café in Oakland, Calif., told TODAY.com. Myatt already works with the non-profit organization Cat Town and believes that his project will allow people to get to know the rescue 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 plans to open her own similar establishment in San Francisco, called KitTea, which will feature 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,” she said.
While the idea has been a success in countries like Japan and Germany, opening a cat café stateside has yet to be seen due to health regulations. Myatt and Hatt are determined to figuring 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 they can balance food codes with felines, and that their cafes, scheduled to open this summer, will be a hot spot for both locals and cat lovers. 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 this would reach a national level!”