A new café may soon be coming to the U.S., and they plan to have cats inside. KitTea, which plans to open in San Francisco this year, will be "part gourmet tea house and part cat and human oasis," according to a Jan. 23, 2014 article on CNET. Founders Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky want to bring together people and cats, "to the benefit of both—through the vehicle of a teahouse."
They also have a mission "to provide homeless cats with an oasis that provides all the love and comfort of a forever home." Their cats will be able to interact with people, or stay in a special, "felines only" area if they like. KitTea is partnering with a local rescue to help care for their cats, and help with adoptions.
KitTea doesn't believe they're taking advantage of cats, or that they're using cats to further their business. According to their FAQ page, the well-being of the cats comes well before their business of tea. A lot of their revenue will go towards continuing to provide an optimum environment for cats, and to find homes for them.
This is something cafés and shops have been doing in many places for a long time, now. In the U.K., most East End bars, shops and cafés have cats as permanent fixtures. The cats not only provide soothing company for people, but they also keep people coming back. They're also good for pest control.
The Japanese consider cats to be good luck. Some stores have cat statues, but others have actual cats helping the owners and managers run their places. You can find cats in small shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and everything in between there.
Here in the U.S., there is the occasional shop with cats inside. They're often small novelty shops, and the cats might be outgoing or they might hide in the back office. Sometimes, they can be found sitting among the merchandise, so still that they appear to be merchandise themselves, until you touch them.
Since KitTea has not opened in San Francisco yet, it's unlikely they'll expand as far as Chicago anytime soon. However, it's a neat concept, and will likely be popular in any city around the U.S.