Cat cafe fails to live up to hype, high prices


Grace Ainslie

A KitTea customer plays with kittens during the 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. session. The cafe offers complementary green tea while patrons play with cats.

Part cafe, part boutique and part cat adoption center, KitTea, San Francisco’s first “cat cafe,” greets customers with a large hairless cat mural in a Buddha-style pose, and takes them into the world of cat-themed products.

The Cat Cafe section of the shop invites visitors to purchase artisanal teas, Belgian waffles, sweet treats and savory bites. The cafe is cat-themed to the extreme, from the free Wi-Fi password to the wallpaper, to a room literally filled with a dozen cats.

The cat playroom, the main attraction, hosts eight to 12 adoptable cats and kittens, which guests can play with for an hour, comes with a hefty price. A $20 entrance fee comes with petting the furry felines and a complimentary side of shedding, but excluding food or drink.

Eating is permitted in the playroom, although many patrons opt for just a cup of tea, largely for fear of the new feline friends eating the over-priced food — aside from sanitation considerations.

Among the over-priced, mediocre paninis ($9) and mochi ($6.50), the brie and strawberry waffle ($11) stands out as the original option. The waffle’s fluffy texture and crispy exterior was worth the 20 minute wait. The fruit and cheese pairing work harmoniously with the light and airy waffle to create a delicious snack worth spending an hour’s worth of babysitting money.

While the kitty playroom is great for those who are looking to adopt a cat, one could easily have a similar, far less expensive experience at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or Pets Unlimited and purchased tea of equal caliber at Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

KitTea is a unique and innovative cafe-kennel hybrid, but for most high school students, it’s not worth the time or money — except for extreme cat lovers with an expendable budget.

KitTea is located on 96 Gough St. and is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday noon to 7 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.