UPDATE, Nov. 17 : Purr Cat Cafe, Boston's first such feline establishment, plans to finally open it's doors this weekend after a few controversies delayed the business's beginnings.
Diane Kelly, the owner of Purr, confirmed that she met with the city's Inspectional Services Department on Thursday after the department said it needed to conduct an investgation stemming from allegations of animal cruelty reported through the city's 311 system.
"Yes, there was an investigation about animal cruelty, which is ridiculous," Kelly said in an email. "I meet with the Inspectional Services Department [Thursday] and they are fine with my opening after looking at the facilities."
The city's inspectional services confirmed that statement. Kelly also said that she does have a license to operate, which is currently on the wall at the business.
However, she is not allowed to conduct any cat adoptions yet, she said, until she has a secured rescue to work with.
"I am in discussions with a new rescue that is very interested," she added.
After multiple tumultuous false-starts and online controversies, Boston’s first cat cafe says it is all set to officially open this Saturday, Nov. 18.
But Purr Cat Cafe’s opening date is still not a certainty, according to the city, because first, the cafe has to be inspected following complaints alleging animal cruelty.
Purr Cat Cafe attracted intense interest in the community when it announced that it would open in Brighton, but after the partnership between the business and a local animal rescue organization fell apart, the cafe became embroiled in online controversy.
Concerned residents and even a former employee said that the cafe would not be a safe haven for rescued cats, due in part to a lack of adequate equipment, especially in the basement, which is meant as a refuge for the cats to get away from customers.
Now, the Boston Inspectional Services Department is involved after some of those worries originally voiced on Purr’s Facebook became official complaints against the establishment with the city.
“There was a complaint that came in through our 311 system, and we’re compelled to send an inspector,” said Inspectional Services Department Commissioner William Christopher Jr.
That investigation is specifically related to animal cruelty complaints, Christopher said.
One complaint specifically referred to the condition of the cafe’s basement, reading, “The basement isn’t safe and [the cats would be] so close together that they can exchange diseases easily," according to 25 News.
Christopher said that the city is not confirming any cruelty at this time, but that they are obligated to “follow up [complaints] to make sure there are no issues apparent.”
When first responding to the complaints, “An inspector went out to the site, and unfortunately nobody was there,” Christopher said, “so what we do is post a notice and request to make contact.”
That notice was apparently photographed and uploaded to Reddit, where users of the online forum had been discussing the cafe controversy for months.
Christopher said that the department has since been in touch with the cafe, which is owned by Diane Kelly, and the two are speaking to set up a time for the inspection.
“If we can work out that inspection and they pass, yeah, we have no problem with them opening at all,” he said. “But it’s critical that they have that inspection.”
The inspection will also check that the cafe has the required license from the state to open, which is a mandatory part of such procedures.
“It’s part of the wellness walk-through to make sure everything is in line, and is routinely done with these types of businesses,” Christopher said. “We’ll do a final wellness walk-through, and if everything is in line, we’ll give the OK to open."