Cat Cafe

Our middle daughter Valerie loves cats; she gets teased by her siblings about turning into a crazy cat lady when she gets old. In the five years since she left to go away to college, we’ve never been sure who she misses more…us or the cats. Many, many photos of our obnoxious orange cat Nigel have been texted to her.

Since she can’t have a cat in the townhouse that she shares in Southern California, maximizing her facetime with cats when she visits is a top priority.

So prior to her arrival for a mini-vacation with us, Valerie sent us a link to a place that she had discovered in San Francisco called . It’s a cat lounge/tea house where you can pay to play with cats.

At first, I didn’t understand the concept. Cats sleep 18 hours a day so as much as I enjoy a trip into the city, I was wondering what made visiting the cats at KitTea so special that it required reservations plus a 50 mile drive when Valerie could pet our snoozing feline freeloaders – as well as a few random neighborhood cats – for free, any day at any time?

But it’s not just about petting cats, it’s the total experience, right? So I went online and made reservations for 30 minute sessions ($15 per person with unlimited tea) for Valerie and Jennifer Lynn in the cat lounge.  Like everything these days, liability is a consideration so there’s a waiver to sign in case a kitty goes rogue during your visit.

We arrived early (and were glad we did – more on that later) for our daughters’ 11:30 appointment at KitTea in Hayes Valley. The first impression when you walk in is how bright, clean, and sunny the space is. We were greeted and told the rules – place your tea order in the cat lounge and pick it up just outside the door; health restrictions permit serving it to you in the cat lounge.

I didn’t make reservations for Steve and me – I’m fine with only petting cats that I can pet for free – so we sipped our tea in a delightful café setting and watched the girls playing with the kitties from the other side of a big glass window.

And they really were kittens (not cats!) so at this time of the morning, they were playful and energetic instead of just being fuzzy slugs. The lounge is filled with cat toys that guests can use to entice the kittens to pounce and leap. We got our money’s worth in entertainment value; we might not have felt that way if our reservations had been for later in the day.  When we strolled past after having lunch, there were some very tired kitties; still cute but lacking on the interactive scale.

Providing entertainment for cat lovers is great but the best part about KitTea is that it is also an adoption center. Twenty-one cats have been adopted since it opened less than two months ago. As much as we would have loved to make it 22, Valerie did not get to bring home a kitten for a souvenir.

The experience exceeded expectations. A big round of ap-paws for KitTea!

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