Boston's first cat cafe won't open without license, city says

BOSTON — A controversial new cat cafe in Brighton is now the focus of an animal cruelty investigation.

Purr Cat Cafe is supposed to be a place where you can drink coffee, play with cats and maybe take one home with you, but Boston 25 News reporter Jason Law found out the owner doesn't have a license and is now under investigation by the city.

A few days ago, Purr Cat Cafe announced on Facebook it would be opening its doors in Brighton this weekend, but city officials say no way.

"We will not allow her to open until we see that license," said Boston Inspectional Services Department Commissioner William Christopher, Jr.

There are no cats inside this cat cafe and city and state officials say there may never be unless owner Diane Kelly begins following the law.

Christopher's office received a pile of complaints about conditions inside the cafe, including this one:

"The basement isn’t safe and they are so close together that they can exchange diseases easily."

A city spokesperson told Boston 25 News inspectors have made three or four attempts just to take a look inside, but every time they went down, they were unable to get in.

"She will not be allowed to open on Saturday without us having the opportunity to inspect and approve the environment the cats will be living in," said Christopher.

Boston 25 News has also learned the state sent Kelly a cease-and-desist order after she wrote on Facebook she wanted to import cats from Russia and Italy. The Department of Agriculture says Kelly doesn't even have a license to open.

"I don't understand what the concern is about animal cruelty," said Kelly.

Boston 25's Jason Law reached out to Kelly on the phone. She denied accusations her cafe would not be a safe place for cats. She also admitted she's still looking for cats to fill her cafe, but officials say until Kelly begins complying with city and state regulations, there will be no cats at 167 Chestnut Hill Ave.