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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Exhikittenist: CatTown, Cat Pics and More

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 8:11 AM

click to enlarge WIKIPEDIA
It’s that time of the year again: the fog has rolled in, the smell of fresh pencils and crisp Muni exhaust is in the air, the Giants are doing some sports thing, Kanye West was in town and one of our favorite holidays just happened: World Cat Day. Ah, to celebrate another year of the unfriendly, leach-like creatures we let live in our house and depress our self-esteem with a blitz of GIFs, interviews, breaking news, and more cowtowing to our feline demons and deities.

This group of cat pics posted in celebration of the occasion is more depressing than we anticipated. Why do so many people feel like they were stuck with cats after break-ups. What would you rather have, lifelong companionship, a warm body, and an understanding partner, or a boyfriend?

Sophie Smith has the longest cat hair in the world, at 10 inches. Selfishly, she has not commented on the possibility of donating it to a charity like Locks of Love, or Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Snuggles Butt Le Lee is a cat name, even though everyone objected when we wanted to name our cat Mithrandir, after Gandalf’s Sindarin name. Racists. These gifs “honor our feline rulers.” Teach your cat how to hack your neighbor’s wifi. A compelling resolution to humanity’s greatest debate. Free bitch cat available from the Stanismeowsky School of Acting.

Ever since the rise in popularity of Cat Cafes in Asia and Europe, the demand to consume hot dirty water in the same building where cats shit has risen in America. Two separate cafes are poised to open in the Bay Area in the coming year, CatTown Cafe in Oakland and KitTea in Hayes Valley. Both ventures will have cafe-style areas with a separate cat zone. All cats will be available for adoption, which is the primary mission of both cafes. We spoke to Ann Dunn, who helms CatTown and is co-founding the CatTown Cafe with Adam Myatt.

Shoot me straight, Ann. Am I going to be able to visit a cat cafe in the Bay Area on this side of the grave?

Almost in the next month! We’re going to be opening in September for certain.

Wow! Will it really be the first in the US?

It looks like it! Yeah I mean I don’t want to say it’s going to be and find out it’s not going to be, but all indications are that it’s going to be.

What was the planning like for this? How did you get around the cruel cruel laws about animals and food?

I run CatTown, a rescue I started about 3 years ago, and it’s always been part of our plan to have an adoption center. About a year ago I started talking to Adam Myatt from Hoodcats, who brought some kittens in to the rescue, and we realized we both wanted to start a cat cafe.

Our mission is to get cats out of the Oakland shelter. This time of year the shelter is completely overrun, so the more cats we can get out of cages from the shelter, the better things will be. The cafe will be a fun way to draw people in, but this is really all about adoption.

What is funding like?

It’s been challenging! We raised about half of the construction costs with an Indiegogo campaign, and we participated in grant programs from Maddie’s Fund, which is a local animal welfare foundation, and they’re incredibly generous. We’re patching it together. We’re a non-profit.

We also spoke to Courtney Hatt, founder of KitTea SF with David Braginsky:

Courtney, you sound like a philanthropist and a genius. Tell us how you came up with this idea.

I’d learned about the cat cafes in Japan when i was sitting in a cafe in the US, thinking to myself “Wow, these sound way more interesting than the cafe i’m in currently, and would be much more enjoyable and social, so there must be a really good reason, e.g. health codes and whatnot.” I started digging into it and researching and found some ways to work through the San Francisco health code bureaucracy. Once I found out it was possible I had to go on that adventure.

Cat adventures are the best kind of adventures! When will you open?

We hope to open by the end of this year. We make all these projections of when we will open but all these things pop up that make it take a bit longer. We do know the location but we’re not announcing the location as of yet. It’s in San Francisco. (At press time, KitTea was having some funding problems.)

What will the cafe be like?

Our vision is that it will be a very zen social experience, not only for the cats but also people at the cafe. You’lll be able to meet people in the community and it will be a zen oasis for rescued cats. I’d describe it as a not-depressing way to get to know a cat you might adopt. In the shelter system the cats are very stressed out and scared and don’t represent themselves to their full potential.

We're already there. 

Ann, Adam, Courtney, and David, godspeed to you. And to the cats, we can only say: Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. 
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Jenny Singer

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