What snuggly attractions do Japan, Korea and several European countries have that the United States doesn’t? Cat cafes.

But that's about to change.

Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky plan to open the nation's first combination tea house and cat sanctuary in San Francisco.

Aptly named KitTea, they envision a space with plenty of natural lighting where patrons can sip tea while stroking a tired tabby or dangling a toy for a playful Persian.

And if a customer makes a connection with a certain calico, an adoption is possible.

According to the KitTea website, the business will partner with a local cat rescue shelter to pick about 10 cats that "will be selected based on their personalities and whether they have been socialized to be comfortable around both humans and other cats."

Given Americans' fondness for both cats and caffeine, why don't we have a cat cafe already? Health codes are mostly to blame.

A Boston cat cafe called Miaou was scheduled to open in 2013 but still hasn't opened its doors due to issues with having animals in the same facility where food is served.

San Francisco has similar regulations to Boston, but the health department says the cat cafe concept could work if the cats are kept separately from food and beverages — as in a completely different room.

KitTea, which is looking for a potential location in Hayes Valley, The Mission or The Lower Haight, says the ideal building would feature two separate sections divided by a closed-off hallway.

Patrons would buy their tea in one room and then walk down the hallway to enter the area with free-roaming cats.

The two distinct spaces wouldn't be allowed to share entrances, staff, washrooms or storage spaces, but Hatt says she's "confident" that the cat cafe will get the approval necessary to start crowdfunding the business.

KitTea plans to open in spring or summer of 2014.

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Could cat cafes come to America?
San Francisco entrepreneurs want to open a tea house with free-roaming felines, but KitTea faces several hurdles from the health department.