Has The Time Come For Cat Cafés in the U.S.?

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Has the time come for cat cafés in the U.S.? Recently I wrote a blog that mentioned that cats wandering through the open-air cafes in Key West added to the atmosphere, and in September, Petfinder's associate producer, Bethany, mentioned, in her blog, a short-lived cat café in NYC where people could bring their own cats.

Cats in cafés? That could be a hairy subject to many diners, but these retreats from the workaday world are particularly popular in Japan, and soon Lauren Pears, an entrepreneur, will be opening Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in London. It will be place where cat fanciers who cannot have pets of their own, for one reason or another, can go get their feline "fix," while enjoying a cup of tea, and presumably food. The frequently asked questions on Lady Dinah's website includes one that asks if it's "really ok to serve food and drink in a room full of cats?" and responds "The short answer is yes."

The longer answer, it goes on to say: "The Food Standards Agency permits animals in a cafe, but legislates that 'reasonable precaution' must be taken (and demonstrable) to prevent domestic animals from accessing food preparation areas." But that's in the U.K.

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The cats who live at the London cat cafe will come from shelters, according to Genevieve Shaw Brown, writing in her abcgo.com blog . And they will be adoptable. Bravo to that! And "To prevent stress on the cats, Pears will charge a cover that limits the number of people inside at one time. Customers who pay can hang around as long as they like, and hopefully, get to know the animals better," according to Huffingtonpost.com.

A quick check on Google leads me to believe that before opening a cat café in the U.S., a person should check with state and local authorities, notably the local health department. U.S. states draft their own health codes, according to Lessley Anderson and Jason Krause, writing for Chow.com, although most of them adopt the FDA Food Code, or parts of it, which prohibits domestic animals in restaurants. (Service animals are an exception.) Cities or counties can issue variances to the state code. Some states have drafted laws allowing dogs at restaurants in outside patio areas, but I couldn't find any that mentioned cats in my cursory search on Google. If anyone knows a place where cats are allowed in a restaurant in the U.S., I'd like to know.

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My friend Margaret, who is a cat lover, doesn't understand the whole cat café phenomenon. She wonders why people who want to socialize with cats don't volunteer at their local shelters and socialize with the cats there, cats who are often starved for attention and need human interaction to increase their chances of being adopted.

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It seems to me shelters could use the cat café concept for fundraisers. Imagine "Tea and Tabby Time" each week! But shelters should be sure to check with local health departments about refreshment guidelines!

The post Has the time come for cat cafés in the U.S.? appeared first on Petfinder.

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Gerri

The problem with just visiting shelters is that often they are sad places with cats in cages and a busy staff. The cafes are friendly places with free-roaming cats and cozy spots to hang out in. There would be no rush and no pressure to make a decision, adopt, donate. Just a nice chance to play with and pet cats. I would go to one if there was one where I live.

The health authorities shouldn't care so long as no cats are in food prep areas. Anyone bothered by allergies or just a dislike of cats would know ahead that this is a cat place! Beverages and bakery, as well as cat treats, would be all that's really needed.

March 29 2013 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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