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The Short Version: San Francisco’s KitTea Cat Cafe, was the first of its kind in the United States, and today it’s become a favorite hangout for feline aficionados, particularly those who don’t have pets of their own. Cat-loving couples can visit the cafe as a unique date experience where they can sip tea as well as meet the permanent furry residents and adoptable kittens. The folks at KitTea say that if you’re both crazy about cats, there’s hardly a better way to spend time together.
More than 86 million people in the U.S. own a cat, and some say the internet was made just for people to enjoy more cat videos and stories. There’s something about cats that people can’t get enough of.
If you and your partner are equally head over heels for felines and are looking for a date activity that allows you to revel in that passion, we recommend checking out San Francisco’s KitTea Cat Cafe.
KitTea, as it’s also called, is home to anywhere between 16 and 22 cats — 13 of which are permanent residents. The others are up for adoption, so cafe visitors can even find a new forever friend as they enjoy a cup of tea.
Cafe guests have two options for communing with the cats at KitTea. You can buy tickets to the cat lounge, purchase food and drinks, and spend time with the animals. Or you can simply watch the felines through a large window while you sip on Taiwanese Milk Tea and nibble on English scones.
Tickets range in price depending on the day and time (e.g., “Happy Meowr”) and can be purchased in one-hour increments. A ticket also entitles a guest to a bottomless cup of tea.
“Our host will alert you when it’s your turn to enter the cat lounge, and you can kick off your shoes and take your tea, food, or other drinks you ordered inside in our cat lounge oasis — bonus if you wear cute cat socks,” said KitTea Owner Courtney.
San Francisco is perhaps the most logical place for America’s first cat cafe because it mimics the conditions that spurred the trend in Asia. Not only do many of the city’s residents live in apartments, San Francisco’s competitive rental market means residents may not be allowed to have pets.
The cafe serves the needs of those city dwellers. Not only do they get to spend time with the animals, but they can also get to know each other, as well as other San Franciscans who love cats as much as they do.
KitTea can spark connections between cats and people — and among people — because the shop’s atmosphere is among the most welcoming in the city.
“It really does feel like going to Grandma’s house — if Grandma had lots of cats and professional cleaners,” Courtney said.
The cats are well cared for, emotionally and physically, so they’re ready to play and entertain to their full potential. The staff is also made up of compassionate people who care for both the animals and the cafe’s customers. Patrons, in turn, find the cafe a relaxing place where they don’t have to do much; they can just be.
“We want you to make yourself comfortable. Kick back and relax with some cats, so you leave with warm and fuzzy feelings and consider KitTea a home away from home,” Courtney said.
Courtney created this warm and welcoming atmosphere because she wanted to give back to her city. After years of working in the tech field, she felt the need to bring her community together while supporting animals in need.
From there, KitTea was born. And while it has a positive impact on the cats, the patrons also see the benefits.
“The cafe gives the humans a meaningful, warm, and authentic experience,” she said.
KitTea Cat Cafe welcomes a diverse mix of cat lovers so patrons never know who they might meet there. The cafe’s most common demographic is women in their 20s and 30s, and the relaxed atmosphere offers plenty of opportunities to bring a date.
Courtney suggests that its hourly gatherings, or “Tea Purrties” as she calls them, are also great opportunities to make friends or romantic matches in a stress-free social setting. Nothing takes the pressure out of a date or meeting than watching a cute cat get excited over a new toy.
“You have a natural icebreaker, and you can find out immediately if your date is a cat person. That way, there’s no wasting anyone’s time,” Courtney said.
Straight men who frequent KitTea — with or without a date — may also find romantic success just by being there. In a recent poll, 82% of women responded that they were more attracted to men who liked animals.
But for those singles or couples for whom a friendly cat and a cup of tea isn’t enough to break down their social barriers, KitTea has many themed nights designed for socializing.
Cat lovers can watch a movie with the cats — and perhaps some compatible humans — during Mewvie Nights on Thursdays. Another option is an Indulgent Fondue Dinner, where diners can enjoy fondue, steak, and red velvet cake while hanging out with the cafe’s feline residents. Cats on Mats Yoga Nights, held on Wednesdays, allow patrons to practice their poses while rescue cats wander around them.
These events spur socializing with both cats and people, so they’re made for city residents — whether they have companions or are searching for new ones. And Courtney said that matches are made regularly at KitTea.
“I’ve seen the cafe spark many new friendships between people,” Courtney said.
While cats can provide much-needed laughter with their goofy antics, the folks at KitTea say cats also offer mental health benefits. That’s the whole idea behind the cafe: cats, tea, and a peaceful environment can lessen anxiety.
“Hanging with animals releases a lot of happy endorphins, so both you and your date will leave feeling joyful and relaxed,” Courtney said.
What’s more, cats serve as support systems that can help humans get out of a funk more quickly. They can also lower stress levels, which, in turn, boosts heart health. Patrons also get a sense of goodwill when they visit KitTea, as the cafe highlights cats in need from local animal shelters. The cafe gives those cats the opportunity to make a lasting connection with a potential owner. If couples love KitTea and its mission, they can even volunteer to be foster parents for cafe cats who might want a change of pace.
“Helping cats and people is what keeps us inspired and full of love every day,” Courtney said.
The KitTea Cat Cafe model has proved to be so popular that more cafes may be cropping up in other San Francisco neighborhoods — or across the country — in the near future.
After all, what’s not to love about the concept? Patrons can connect and help cats in need of homes, and the cats, in turn, can improve the lives of patrons.
“We love to hear from our regulars that the cats have changed their lives for the better,” Courtney said.
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