Cat café de­nies en­try to teen with dis­abil­ity

Mid­town busi­ness says wheel­chairs harm cats; next stop is hu­man rights tri­bunal

North Toronto Post - - News - by Jes­sica Wei

When the fam­ily of Ja­cob Tross­man de­cided to sur­prise him on his 16th birthday with a trip to a cat café, they ex­pected to be able to get through the door. How­ever, when he ar­rived at the store­front, the own­ers of Meow Cat Café abruptly turned his fam­ily away. The teenager, who lives at Av­enue Road and Lawrence Av­enue West has a neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­der and re­lies on a wheel­chair to move around.

“She said that once upon a time, a wheel­chair hurt her cat, so she de­cided not to let any wheel­chairs in,” said Ja­cob’s mother, Marcy White.

Af­ter news broke of this event, mem­bers of the dis­abled com­mu­nity took to so­cial me­dia and voiced their dis­ap­proval.

Pawsi­tively Pets, an an­i­mal ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram, reached out to the Tross­mans, of­fer­ing to host a pets party at their fa­cil­ity. They don’t keep cats or dogs, for safety and an­i­mal com­pat­i­bil­ity rea­sons, but their pets in­clude par­rots, rab­bits, guinea pigs and oth­ers. Pawsi­tively Pets owner Jen­nifer Ego said that she had seen in­stances where wheel­chairs or strollers had in­jured cats or dogs, but that her com­pany had taken pre­cau­tions to main­tain the safety of both the pets and pa­trons.

“I com­mend that [the own­ers] want to en­sure that their an­i­mals are safe,” said Ego. “[But] be­fore you open up a busi­ness where you’re go­ing to en­gage peo­ple and an­i­mals, you have to look at the whole pic­ture: Can ev­ery­body be safe? Can it be in­clu­sive? And can we fig­ure out a for­mat where it can be in­clu­sive?”

Soon af­ter the in­ci­dent, Meow Cat Café closed shop and posted a note on the door. It stated that a num­ber of peo­ple with wheel­chairs had re­cently en­tered the café and some of the cats were in­jured.

“As a re­sult, the cats are in a state of too much stress and anx­i­ety,” read the note. It ended with the words (em­pha­sis theirs), “Are you happy and sat­is­fied now?”

A wheel­chair isn’t an army tank that can’t move out of the way.”

“She doesn’t seem to un­der­stand the im­pact that her ac­tions have on other peo­ple,” said White about the owner who turned away her son. “A wheel­chair isn’t an army tank that can’t move out of the way.”

The own­ers of Meow Cat Café didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment, but a new Face­book post on their page stated that they were plan­ning on re­open­ing in the fu­ture.

“We are tak­ing steps to im­prove our ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties to meet these needs,” it read.

White has be­gun the process of fil­ing a hu­man rights com­plaint against the own­ers of the café, He­len and Erica Yun.

Marcy White and her son Ja­cob in front of the cat café that turned him away

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