Friends of felines in Denver and San Diego will be happy to learn that they are getting cat cafes near them by the end of the year.
Yes, that’s right: cat cafes. The phenomenon, which originated in Taiwan and has spread to countries across Asia and Europe, invites customers to buy a cup of coffee, tea or pastries and mingle with some tabbies, shorthairs, ragamuffins and Balinese cats.
But what about cat lovers in Boston? We want to sip our coffee and cuddle the furry beasts, too.
A potential cat cafe called Miaou Boston was in the works in 2013 and last anyone heard, it was working with city and health officials for an approval of a Boston location. Since the end of last year, the cafe’s activity and presence on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter has ceased, taking all our hopes with it.
As disappointing as that is, it might not be a shocker to city officials in the Inspectional Services Department who recognize the difficulties in getting approved for a location in Boston.
“They’d have to first talk to public health officials with issues concerning the animals,’’ Inspectional Services Commissioner William Christopher told Boston.com. “It’s taken very seriously. They would have to get permits, and meet health and sanitary codes.’’
Current Massachusetts law prohibits pets in dining rooms, eating areas, and food preparation, storage, sales and display areas. In this case, it’s probably for the best, least you want a cup of tea with a side of cat hair.
Despite the health concerns, Christopher said it seems like an interesting concept and he looks forward to any applicants in the Boston area that would want to open a location in the city.
“If the interest is here, we will do everything in our power to get this opened and operational,’’ he said. “It will take a little creative thought, and the mayor wants new, innovative thought for our city.’’
Cat entrepreneurs on the West Coast are ahead of the game. Cat Town Cafe, in Oakland, Calif. was the first permanent location to open on Oct. 25 (pop-up cafes in New York City and Los Angeles were temporarily opened this year).
The first non-profit cafe has an area that serves coffee, and pastries and bagels that are prepared at outside locations like local businesses. A second area attached to the cafe will serve as the “Cat Zone’’ where customers can bring their food and beverages into the space and play with as many as 6 to 12 adoptable cats that freely roam around. The animals come from a partnership with local animal shelter, Oakland Animal Services.
Co-founder Adam Myatt, also known as The Cat Man of West Oakland, said he and founder Ann Dunn had in the past worked together on cat adoptions. After a trip to Japan, where he visited over 12 cafes and saw more than 200 cats, the founders thought about how they could implement the idea in the U.S.
“We started this really weird, random business together,’’ Myatt said, “Oakland is a pretty big high-risk area for euthanizing, so there’s a big need to get cats out of shelters. It’s all about getting more people into adoption.’’
While California’s cat population “is astronomical,’’ Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at Nevins Farm director Mike Keiley said the organization’s research shows that cat numbers in New England shelters are going down.
But Keiley said the Nevin’s Farm adoption center and other shelters in the state are always looking for new, creative ways to get shelter cats exposure to feline lovers looking for pets.
“Would it be successful? Yeah, it would. Cats are cool right now,’’ he said. “The idea to showcase cats in a comfortable setting could be something that benefits the cats and something that can’t be done in a cage.’’
It looks like the city is on board, local animal centers think it’s an intriguing idea and other cat business starters around the country have gotten the ball rolling. So where is Boston’s cat cafe?
Get those permit applications in, people. For now, we’ll have to make due with the cat Vines.