A visit to KitTea, the new cafe at 96 Gough St., induces visitors in an environment full of cats, specialty tea and employees who are passionate about what they do. (And the cats are all adoptable.)

Looking around the space you can find cats lounging in the sun, inside beds, beside people enjoying tea (from ceramic ware designed by co-founder Lisa Tsubouchi), up on a ledge—all over.
When she found the space, Hatt had only a loose idea of the aesthetic that would fill the four walls, but in time she was able to design a space that was intended to cater to both humans and cats.

“You go to some cat cafes that are designed for the cats and you see the visitors crouching in an uncomfortable way,” explained co-founder Michael Wiggins. “This space is meant to cater to both and makes interactions really organic.”
The construction cost about $500,000, which Hatt says would've been a deal if they weren't renting. The space was planned in-depth by founder Courtney Hatt, and even the lampshades carry the Japanese theme.

Tsubouchi, who is going to Japan soon to visit her Grandma and to visit the farm where KitTea's tea is sourced for a bi-annual work day, explained that the lampshades in the lobby are similar to a decoration she sees in Japan.

Hatt, who grew up surrounded by horses, border collies, hamsters, guinea pigs, frogs, goldfish and snakes on the island Whidbey off the Paficic Northwest coast outside of Seattle, has always had a special bond with cats, using their company to ground her while dealing with anxiety. While living in Los Angeles, Hatt volunteered at animal shelters. Currently, Hatt has four cats and a rabbit named Wicket (after the Ewok it resembles).

Five years ago, Hatt moved to San Francisco to work on a consciously sourced human-grade dog treat company that donated 40 percent of the proceeds to shelters, though it did not work out. She is again following the model, however, of being profitable and charitable.

Adopting a cat involves an interview to make sure the new parents are a good match and a $125 adoption fee, which goes directly to Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue, the San Francisco shelter that chooses the cats for KitTea, to pay for shots and neutering/ spaying. Cats can be taken home the same day, but only outside of business hours.

The cafe has 13 people on staff, with four employees working at any given time. Volunteers support the cafe as well. Fanny Tan is a volunteer from Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue. Tan organizes a roster of more than 80 volunteers who help clean litter boxes, provide food and water for the cats and keep the space clean. 
“I'm born and raised in San Francisco, and so I'm extra proud to be a part of KitTea,” said Tan.

“The cats all have different personalities,” said Tan. “I learned the names quickly for all of the cats. I come in daily to check on the well being of the cats.”
So far Hatt has encountered positive enthusiasm from Hayes Valley neighbors.

Mondays: 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.–8 p.m. (maybe become 9 p.m.)