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Cat at restaurant?

jroxybabe19 Oct 15, 2007 03:17 PM

I was in Napa this weekend and was at a wonderful restaurant. We were eating dinner on the outdoor covered patio and I see a small bowl of cat food and water in the corner. Mid-way through our meal, I see a cat at my feet and on other peoples laps. It was very cute but when I'm out to dinner I prefer not to be around them. The waitress commented that sometimes the cat brings them presents (dead mice etc.) What if I was allergic? What would the Board of Health have to say about this? Does anyone know or am I just being stuck up? I just found it odd, let me know your thoughts.

  1. alkapal Oct 22, 2007 06:59 AM

    ailurophobia - fear of cats.

    goodness alive people, it is a CAT on an outdoor PATIO!

    what is next in Napa? aerophobia? basophobia, oh the list goes on:
    http://www.phobialist.com/ :-O

    oh, and another concept: consumer choice!

    1. p
      progressivenewamerican Oct 22, 2007 06:13 AM

      I am actually allergic to cats, and although it is true that I won't die from being around one, I would in fact get pretty ill--more than simply just not enjoy the meal, probably be laid up in bed for the rest of the day. Why does a cat need to be in the resturant? Clean or not clean, why?

      1 Reply
      1. re: progressivenewamerican
        Honeychan Oct 22, 2007 04:47 PM

        I think for the animal-lovers who aren't allergic or have sanitary issues with an animal being around their food, I think there's a big percentage of us who find animals utterly charming. I know I do, and think they add a bit of character to a place. I used to go to a used bookstore that the owner brought their cat in every day. It was very mellow, and loved when customers gave it attention. I looked forwards to finding out if the cat would be there, and would even seek it out! Of course washing my hands dilligently afterwards, lest my DH flip out in a reaction. (never a good thing)

        My Grandmother likes pretty much all animals, but would shoo the cat away at dinner. For some reason, the dog was allowed, as long as he was good and didn't beg. Maybe since cats can jump onto a table easier than most dogs, this was her reasoning.

        I would figure a cat in a resto would either be the owner's pet, or a local stray. Either way, I would figure the owner knows, and approves of the cat. I wonder if someone complained to the owner, what might they do? Stop bringing the cat? I would think a politely worded letter of concern (hygene-related would be ideal) to the owner might bring some answers. Be careful, they might not be what you wanted, tho!!*LOL*

      2. Chew on That Oct 19, 2007 04:17 PM

        Ughhh, that is just terrible. I would NOT like to see a cat on my feet while I'm eating. Gross!

        1. nancyhudson Oct 19, 2007 01:51 PM

          I kind of smiled and reminisced when I saw only the "Cat at restaurant?" on the board, because I fondly remembered a wonderful restaurant that had a cat - Bistro Kitty. Imagine my surprise when I clicked and read your post...I know exactly where you were in Napa! I honestly didn't mind the cat there, altho it would bother me if it jumped on my lap. I have a cat and I would never let it on my lap while I was eating. I'm sure if you were to tell the proprietor or manager your restaurant animal preferences, they'd rather accomodate you than the animal.

          1. Spiritchaser Oct 19, 2007 10:52 AM

            What I find amusing is a large percentage of the people whining about the animals (and I don't think you are, I think you started this as a true discussion), if sitting in a small family vineyard in the Venetto region of Italy eating a cheese and meat platter while sampling the recent harvest while the family dog, cats, chicken, and goat wandered around them would think it was charming and rustic. Get them back home and OMG! there is a cat by my feet while I'm eating outside.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Spiritchaser
              rednyellow Oct 19, 2007 04:22 PM

              Good point.

            2. h
              hsk Oct 18, 2007 10:48 PM

              It's a PATIO - patios have flies, wasps, birds, dust, noise. etc. Maybe the occasional cat, gopher, mouse or snake depending on where you are.

              If you're worried about hygiene, ask to be seated inside, don't allow your pristine dining experience to be sullied by sitting in such uncontrollable conditions, most health departments don't regulate otdoor seating.

              1. Kajikit Oct 18, 2007 09:14 PM

                It was outdoors, not inside the building, so I don't see how it was a problem - a restaurant cat can be very useful to help keep down the vermin population, especially in patios/terraces etc. Which would you rather have on the property? A cat, or a couple of dozen rodents???
                The only time I've met a Restaurant Cat was outside on a terrace... I love cats so I was happy to see it. :)

                1. jbyoga Oct 18, 2007 11:23 AM

                  A cat in a restuarant I think is charming - too much real drama in the world to make a fuss about this.

                  1. t
                    tubman Oct 18, 2007 09:32 AM

                    Swear this is true: We were in search of a late-night bite in Manhattan many years ago. We couldn't find an open restaurant, but we did find a carryout which had a few tables.

                    After ordering, I asked where their bathroom was--they pointed upstairs. The bathroom door was open (there was a sign on it requesting that it be left open when not in use), and I found a cat squatting on the toilet seat. A string was attached to the toilet's handle to make it easier for the cat to flush (and he did). Then he sauntered out so I could take my turn.

                    I'm not a cat person, and fairly allergic. But frankly, I was more amazed and amused than grossed out or upset. I mentioned it to the guy behind the counter, who got very defensive and explained that the cat always stayed upstairs.

                    This was in the days before the Internet, and I couldn't convince my friends (none of us were cat people) about what I had just seen. But if you're interested, apparently it's fairly easy.
                    http://www.karawynn.net/mishacat/toil...

                    1. h
                      hungry_pangolin Oct 18, 2007 07:18 AM

                      The cat wouldn't bother me, but I'm an animal guy. I know many who would be put off by the presumptuous cat.

                      Many years ago I was in Split with a friend of mine. We walked into a restaurant and took a seat (inside, not patio). A rather large hound lazily came over to our table to say hi. I was charmed. My friend (son of a Ministry of Agriculture veterinarian) was horrified.

                      I find that the presence of an animal humanises a room. Many years ago, my local pub used to allow dogs, and I quite liked their company. Nothing like a good pint and a warm dog on a winter evening. Enough customers had issues, such as allergies, and the issue of cleanliness, that it was no longer permitted. There was a cat that lived upstairs, and would wander into the pub repeatedly over the course of the day. He died some time ago, and the pub still has his photo behind the bar. Alas, things have changed, and the local BoH (Toronto) is very strict about these things now.

                      1. tachis Oct 17, 2007 08:57 AM

                        I guess I fall into the pro-resto-cat camp here! It wouldn't bother me a bit; in fact, I'd be more likely to visit the resto more often just to see how the kitty is doing. Same for a resident dog. Frankly, I'm more put off by places/patios where squirrels and pigeons are visible--not so much because of cleanliness issues (though that is a concern for me) but more because they just plain creep me out and I don't want them stalking me while I eat.

                        And at the risk of really ticking some folks off... I'd prefer the resto with the cat or dog to a resto filled with children. [quickly ducks under desk]

                        But I do sympathize/empathize with the issues brought up here and I can see how there could be concerns about cleanliness, allergies, etc. And these are indeed valid concerns.

                        One thing came to mind though--is this different from eating at someone's house who has cats, or any other pets for that matter? Would folks be apprehensive about eating at the home of someone who had cats roaming about? As a cat owner myself, I try to be sympathetic to friends who don't like cats or are allergic by keeping them (the cats! not the guests!) in another room while entertaining (not that my cats are particularly social, they usually hide anyway), and of course doing a thorough cleaning/vacuuming before folks arrive. I don't think anyone has ever refused an invitation just because of the cats. But hey, after reading this thread, I'm going to be more diligent and sensitive to this issue.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: tachis
                          t
                          Tay Oct 17, 2007 09:25 AM

                          My friends know I have cats. Those that are bothered by this, either due to medical conditions or personal preferences, have let me know and we agree to meet out or I visit them at their homes. It's a better solution for all concerned.

                          1. re: tachis
                            Honeychan Oct 18, 2007 10:43 PM

                            >>And at the risk of really ticking some folks off... I'd prefer the resto with the cat or dog to a resto filled with children. [quickly ducks under desk]>>

                            Here-here! I will completely agree with you on this one.

                            Unfortunatly, I see it from both sides. I'm a major animal-lover of all types, yet my husband is severly allergic to cats. (he was hospitalized as a small child after a allergic reaction to a family's cat) He will get a very tight chest, and can barely breathe- so I have to take contention to the poster who wrote "Well, pet allergies are in the nose of the beholder". No, they can be VERY very real. Therefore, my hubby dosen't like cats. (can't say I blame him)

                            If the cat dosen't bother patrons, dosen't jump in any "unwanted" laps, or beg for food, hubby would be okay. Of course, i'd find a way to pet the cat, and wash my hands furiously afterwards. He KNOWS when I've been petting a cat! I really enjoy well-behaved dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, heck i'm cool with a spider spinning a web (as long as it's not too close for comfort) in an outdoor resto setting.

                            Well-behaved means no paws on table!! *LOL*

                          2. b
                            Beau711 Oct 17, 2007 08:16 AM

                            Methinks some posters on this thread are getting nervous about cats walking around on the restaurant's kitchen food counter. This was not noted in the original poster's topic. Personally I think it's nice that this restaurant leaves a bowl of food and water in the corner for the cat.

                            It’s been demonstrated that nursing homes and hospitals are using dogs and cats to comfort hospitalized patients. Whether it’s the patient’s own pet or a pet brought to the hospital by local volunteers working for a visiting pet program. This is excellent therapy for the patient.

                            http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/reporter...

                            And let’s not forget that in the 12th Century, bubonic plague a/k/a the Black Death epidemic took thousands and thousands of lives in Europe. In England more than half the people died from it and in France, only about one-tenth survived. If it weren’t for cats exterminating the rodent populations, Europe may not have been saved from complete extinction - so where would America be? I love cats.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Beau711
                              t
                              Tay Oct 17, 2007 08:35 AM

                              Beau
                              I like the points you made. I too meant to point out that the OP said nothing about cats walking around in the food prep areas or on the tables. Cats are very effective "pest population" controllers, well fed cats, even more so. The Bubonic Plague reference was a very sobering reminder of how devastating a world health problem can become.

                              1. re: Beau711
                                Lori SF Oct 17, 2007 09:18 AM

                                Yes, good points. Actually animals are much cleaner than humans. I really should get off this thread, its bothering me.
                                I hate to see someone creating an uproar over a little harmless cat that lives outside the restaurant and the human causing the fuss will probably eat there once because they are not from there. Cannot believe how many people are bothered by a cat, well yes I can believe it things that are not shocking can still be surprising.

                                1. re: Lori SF
                                  jroxybabe19 Oct 17, 2007 11:46 AM

                                  Lori, I was not creating an uproar I think you read my orginal post incorrectly. I was simply putting it up for discussion to see what other restos allowed or what was common. I frequently visit the area, so saying that I never will go there again is not an accurate statement. I look forward to going back, the food was amazing.

                                  1. re: jroxybabe19
                                    Lori SF Oct 17, 2007 01:53 PM

                                    My comment about the uproar was not pointed directly at you. Since Napa is a tourist destination it is possible that a one time visitor that feels very strongely that a cat should be no where near their Foie gras could create a sad situation for a cat.

                                    I did not find that you created an uproar. However, I did find that there are two very opposing thoughts on this subject with a few sprinkles of somewhere in between. I also think it is amazing that one little cat could create such debate and the use of our energy.

                                    1. re: Scrapironchef
                                      Lori SF Oct 17, 2007 05:39 PM

                                      and finishing it of with a nice vintage port! Heres to you kitty!!

                              2. foodseek Oct 17, 2007 12:39 AM

                                I believe the restaurant should honestly post a sign or notice at the entrance to an area where animals-especially feral cats-are sharing the space. This would eliminate any problems which could result from patrons who are for whatever reason not happy having a meal around cats. I think if I was in the middle of a meal or placed an order,I would feel uncomfortable just getting up and walking away from the table but that is what I would do leaving my husband or dining partner alone to ask for the bill. I would not continue a meal in a area where a cat could jump on my lap. Sorry, not going to happen. So rather than be embarrased or make a scene I would appreciate a heads up from the staff and since that is not feasible as each diner walks in , a sign maybe complete with picture would be great-like a baby on board sign but instead one reading cat ahead. That way I could very politely and quietly turn around and find another place to eat. Oh, as a disclaimer I have dogs which I have sat with at outdoor seating areas but would hope most people know those are dog type spots in the city. If not let me apologize.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: foodseek
                                  e
                                  embee Oct 17, 2007 06:32 AM

                                  I personally have few issues with cats and dogs being allowed in restaurants, and no issues with allowing them on outdoor patios. My only concern is that reasonable food handling practices are in place. As noted earlier, I feel cats are the best rodent control there is. When I was a child in New York, virtually every food establishment around had at least one resident cat.

                                  It is easy keep a restaurant (service animals aside) animal free. If animals are allowed inside, then I agree with you - they should post a notice. But I doubt this is the case in most of North America. I think it's rather sad, but that's another topic. Well behaved animals, and children, should be welcome anywhere.

                                  As to patios, though, I take exception. There is no way a resto could ensure that stray cats, birds, squirrels, raccoons, et al never enter a patio. And I wouldn't want my eating area to be laced with poison. If you have a problem with "city critters", you shouldn't eat outdoors.

                                  I sense from your closing comment that you recognize possible hypocrisy. Many people are as uneasy with dogs as you are with cats. Each critter has its behaviour quirks, both individually and as one of a species. I know otherwise rational people who are terrified of being bitten by a dog - any dog. Most cat fearing people I know don't expect to be nipped.

                                  We have cats and a dog at home. The dog can be controlled. He never gets onto a tabletop or into a food prep or storage area. But we would never take this (six pound) dog to a patio because he is territorial and not reliably well behaved.

                                  The cat's aren't "allowed" on kitchen counters or the table, but they sometimes go there anyway because, simply, cats can. So we bleach the counters before prepping food and wipe the tabletop, just in case.

                                  1. re: embee
                                    foodseek Oct 17, 2007 09:42 AM

                                    You are right, I do own up to a prejudice toward dogs over cats. Yet, I would never try to take my dog somewhere it wasn't allowed and have no problem with a notice telling other patrons that dogs are allowed in a particular area. A type of buyer beware notice would save a lot of ill feelings for a patron who fears animals for whatever reason. Of course, the random bird flying overhead or squirrel must be an exception, occurs everywhere and is an assumed possibility. But,the impression I got from the OP was that this cat was a resident of the patio area -well known to the staff- and not a stranger so to speak. In that case, please a little forewarning is all I ask.

                                    1. re: foodseek
                                      e
                                      embee Oct 17, 2007 10:29 AM

                                      I don't disagree with you about forewarning but, really, I see it as an expected attribute of outdoor dining. Cats are just there and, if anything, leaving food and water around lessens the (probably low) likelihood that one would jump on someone's lap. One restaurant in my area keeps food and water available outside their patio area for this reason.

                                      When my wife owned a restaurant, a family of raccoons used to watch their patio from an overhanging tree every evening one summer. The customers thought it was really cute, but she was terrified that a raccoon would get too close. She was told that they couldn't do anything at all practical about it. Fortunately, the raccoons waited patiently until everyone had left and then attempted to raid the dumpster.

                                      1. re: embee
                                        foodseek Oct 17, 2007 11:56 AM

                                        Ok, Embee I see common ground developing here.<grin> Raccoons are cute so no problem from me sharing area at different times of day with them but once again a "cat at my feet and on other peoples laps" at a restaurant where waitress says cat does duty by bringing spoils of hunt in for the admiration of guests is just not going to happen on my watch.
                                        I will be the one inside in the corner booth far away from the patio waving at you as you go on safari to the wilds of outdoor eating.

                                  2. re: foodseek
                                    t
                                    Tay Oct 17, 2007 08:00 AM

                                    foodseek
                                    I agree with the posting of signs informing prospective patrons that there are cats afoot. While I have no problem with the cat issue, I can appreciate the health concerns/phobias/preferences of others. It makes sense to inform the public of any 'special' circumstances present that might affect a person's dining experience. Thank you for bringing it up as an option/suggestion.

                                  3. Lori SF Oct 16, 2007 08:33 PM

                                    Its a country cat and has just as much of a right being there as you do. The cat is keeping the vermon down while you enjoy your lunch. Its a win win. Plus its nice that the cat has that life instead of ending up at the pound. I thinks it charming as well. I love Europe for this reason, they just don't have issues with cats or dogs in eating establishments.

                                    I have such a fond memory when I was in Rome at this cafe there was a huge cabinet/shelves with slots where all the local's stored their dog dish. You saw crystal, ceramic, metal, handmade bowls, etc. Each slot storing the bowl had the owners name, I saw some famous names up there. It was very cool!

                                    1. e
                                      embee Oct 16, 2007 08:08 PM

                                      Toronto would shut down a restaurant if a cat was discovered inside. Personally, I'd rather have cats for rodent control than the toxic sprays preferred by public health. You need to keep them away when preparing food and you need to sanitize the food prep areas, as their paws may have trod that path. But this should be normal kitchen hygiene in any event.

                                      I don't have any issues with cats on a patio as long as they stay on the ground. You can't control the birds, squirrels, and raccoons in an outdoor space. Why pick on the cats?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: embee
                                        t
                                        tartiflette Oct 18, 2007 08:16 AM

                                        Really? The now-defunct Cobalt on College St had a three-legged cat that would often be seen sleeping by the window during the day (while the lounge was closed).

                                        Then again, Cobalt served drinks only and no food, so that might explain why that wasn't an issue.

                                        1. re: tartiflette
                                          e
                                          embee Oct 18, 2007 03:42 PM

                                          It depends a lot on who happens to inspect a place and what s/he happens to see. The official policy is no animals (service dogs excepted). Some will overlook an animal that doesn't go into the kitchen, but they almost never ignore a formal complaint.

                                      2. a
                                        alysonlaurel Oct 16, 2007 05:30 PM

                                        I think it's so gross that it makes me shudder to think about. I would have just walked out. I can't imagine any respectable retaurant owner thinking it's okay to let animals wander around. I think it's particularly objectionable to let strays make a home of people's leftovers. Some poeple have mentioned that restaurants use unsterile utensils and equipment. This is true, but in most places washing practices and cleaning practices are regulated in restaurants, whereas these neighborhood cats are allowed to wander wherever they like, and get into fights with all kinds of animals.

                                        But I guess that's just me.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: alysonlaurel
                                          t
                                          Tay Oct 17, 2007 07:53 AM

                                          Yep...
                                          It's just you :-}

                                        2. jfood Oct 16, 2007 05:13 PM

                                          how silly is it for me to write this one for jfood but here we go.

                                          jfood is obviously a dog person and fortunately for all, he is not a cat person (whew). And he loves taking his dog places and for good reason. his dog is a certified therapy dog and is extremely well behaved. she does not bark, does not slobber and basically lies down at jfood feet and watches people go by. in fact when other dogs walk by she couldn't care less. all the dog asks is for a few crumbs, and she loves pizza crusts.

                                          but cats, jfood would hate having one jump on his lap. at an outside bistro, cats are more than welcome and if they grab a mouse for a quick bite, all he asks is for a little consideration from the cat. take it into and alley for your snack.

                                          Under no circumstances is a cat allowed on the table. jfood would send the food back at that point. not interested in sharing food with any 4-legged creature other than his faithful and perfect dog. :-)))

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: jfood
                                            Quine Oct 16, 2007 05:23 PM

                                            My humble apologies !!! In my post about slobbering, barking dogs, I totally forgot about service dogs!!!! And I should know better, as a few friends have them in their lives, Thank GOODNESS.

                                            Ty for giving us this reminder. Service animals rule and so do their people.

                                            1. re: Quine
                                              jfood Oct 16, 2007 06:55 PM

                                              like people, some dogs have restaurant manners. :-P

                                              1. re: Quine
                                                Servorg Oct 16, 2007 07:53 PM

                                                I believe that there is a qualitative difference in how the health laws treat therapy dogs, which are taken places such as hospitals where they interact with the patients in order to lift their spirits emotionally, and service dogs which are allowed inside restaurants in order to assist individuals who need their special skills to cope with whatever physical or psychological limitations the service dog owners are living with.

                                            2. hipquest Oct 16, 2007 04:50 PM

                                              We have cats and a dog so for me this is never a problem but if you're not used to pets or are allergic I'd want to be seated elsewhere. Perhaps the host should inform diners that they might get a visit from a four-legged "staff" member if dining on the patio?

                                              When my husband and I were in France we saw dogs and cats in quite a few eateries but our favorite was a cafe in Paris where the cat LITERALLY ran the cash register.

                                              1. s
                                                swsidejim Oct 16, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                It wouldnt bother me.

                                                Id much rather have a cat in an outdoor area of a restaurant than a slobbering, barking dog.

                                                1. a
                                                  atraxia Oct 16, 2007 06:28 AM

                                                  i'm not a pet person. and i am allergic to pet dander. that being said - i don't mind seeing animals wander around in an outdoor patio area - as long as they don't touch me/get on my lap.
                                                  not a fan of animals indoors. how do i know that that they rinsed out the glasses before they served my drinks or that the cat wasn't sitting onto of a microwave and got pet hair into my food? i've had a few instances of finding floating pet hair in my glass of water. *shudder*
                                                  i was at a bar once - and they had a couple of dogs - and one of them decided to do a #2 right in front my friends and I - and it stunk so bad - and no one bothered to come over and clean up. disgusting.

                                                  1. j
                                                    Janet from Richmond Oct 16, 2007 05:36 AM

                                                    I'm pro-animal and especially outside I'd have no problem with it. I bring one of my dogs (not the beagle in my avatar, but my golden retriever) to work most days.

                                                    1. j
                                                      jujuthomas Oct 16, 2007 05:29 AM

                                                      As a person with (severe) allergies, I say let them be, if they are outside. I would be very uncomfortable in a resto or bar that allowed pets inside, because I like to breathe. And yes, allergies to pets CAN be deadly - if untreated. Allergy caused asthma attacks kill people every year. When we visit our timeshare we frequently see semi-feral cats wandering around the resort and especially the restaurants. This does not bother us, as long as they stay out of our villa. :)

                                                      1. f
                                                        Fuser Oct 16, 2007 12:21 AM

                                                        I find having animals around to be joyful and I would have been the person sneaking bites to the animal, which incidentally, is probably a bad idea and it will make the cat fat and sick. That said, I'd probably still do it. And I love having cats on my lap when I eat. But as far as worrying about toxoplasmosis, unless a pregnant woman is directly handling the cat's feces, it is highly unlikely the cat poses any threat. I understand people who are wary of strange animals, but I wouldn't worry about it if it's out on a patio. Most animals will leave you alone if you show no interest in them.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Fuser
                                                          m
                                                          MakingSense Oct 16, 2007 08:45 AM

                                                          Taxoplasmosis infection from cats may be "highly unlikely" but pregnant women are very cautious today about many things - cocktails, cheese, sushi and fish consumption, smoking of course, raw oysters - that women never gave a second thought a few decades ago. Cats often jump up on tables and counters. Simple fact. And they cover their feces in dirt and litter boxes so they can have traces of all sorts of things on their feet.
                                                          I'm not particularly fussy and don't mind animals around but they shouldn't be allowed on surfaces where food is prepared or served. That's hard to do with cats and birds.

                                                          1. re: MakingSense
                                                            sebetti Oct 16, 2007 02:35 PM

                                                            But now they're recommending that women eat fish during pregnancy and they're also reconsidering the cocktail issue as well (wine). Oh, and then there are all of those Japanese women who don't seem to be having any problems with their raw fish consumption during pregnancy.

                                                            Snarkiness aside (yes, I was just pregnant and yes I'm pissed that I gave up fish for no good reason (and yes I understand the concept of bioaccumulation and no I wouldn't have consumed shark anyway, etc.)), I don't think the cat presents much of a threat. OB/GYN's don't have a problem with cats in the house other than that they suggest that someone else take over litterbox duties.

                                                            1. re: MakingSense
                                                              f
                                                              Fuser Oct 17, 2007 09:37 AM

                                                              No one is talking about cats walking ON tables or surfaces where food is being prepared; we're talking about cats being in the same area -- outside -- where food is being served. I have complete sympanthy for those with severe cat allergies and can understand not wanting animals inside where food is being served in a commercial establishment. But this is outside, on a patio. The tables are going to be dirtier than inside. That's a basic fact. Birds drop stuff from the trees and alight on tables much more than cats walk on them. There are all kinds of airborne particles from anywhere around. It's a risk you take eating outside anywhere. If you're concerned keep some antibacterial wipes and lotion on hand and use them to clean the table when you sit. I use mine in all public places these days. There are dangers everywhere, but toxoplasmosis is no more likely with casual exposure to an outside cat who may or may not have walked on the table than West Nile virus. If it's an issue for you, don't ban the cats, just wipe the surfaces.

                                                          2. meatn3 Oct 15, 2007 10:40 PM

                                                            In the Keys I dined at a place where chickens roamed about the outdoor seating area. When they came too close to my sandaled toes, I just lifted my feet! As long as the animal is not in the kitchen and is not aggressive & being a pest I don't see it as a problem.

                                                            1. a
                                                              atomic42 Oct 15, 2007 07:09 PM

                                                              Stuck up? No. Wasting time on a silly issue? Yes.
                                                              More proof for our European friends that Americans have too much time on their hands.
                                                              You've obviously never been to Southern Europe where cats in cafes, tavernas etc are commonplace and appreciated. The thought of calling the BOH is nothing less than outrageous.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: atomic42
                                                                r
                                                                Rick Oct 15, 2007 07:31 PM

                                                                Maybe restaurants can call rats and mice pets so it'd be outrageous to call the BOH about them. Hmm, an outdoor cat that carries dead mice around doesn't whet my appetite.

                                                                1. re: Rick
                                                                  Servorg Oct 16, 2007 05:48 AM

                                                                  You're at much greater risk from someone in the kitchen with Hep A contaminating your food or utensils than anything a cat or dog is likely to "contribute" to your meal.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                                    t
                                                                    Tay Oct 16, 2007 01:33 PM

                                                                    Servorg
                                                                    So, So true.

                                                                  2. re: Rick
                                                                    Lemon Curry Oct 18, 2007 11:22 AM

                                                                    I expect you'd prefer those mice dead than, say, multiplying in the basement and making nightly excursions into the kitchen.

                                                                  3. re: atomic42
                                                                    jroxybabe19 Oct 15, 2007 09:06 PM

                                                                    Well if you saw my previous post, I would never call the BOH just put it up for disscussions. I havent had the luxury of traveling to other countries and I am open minded about the situation to get other outlooks. And for having too much time on my hands, you are commenting on my silly issue.

                                                                  4. chocchipcookie Oct 15, 2007 06:59 PM

                                                                    It just comes down to wether a person likes cats or not. If you own cats or like them, it is not such an issue. If you have never owned a cat or hate them, them it is an issue. I wouldn't let a strange cat get up on my lap while dining, but I wouldn't mind them lurking around for scraps. Like Meann said, the cat is on your side when eating outdoors.

                                                                    1. rednyellow Oct 15, 2007 06:48 PM

                                                                      I think it's cool. mellow pets at restaurants, especially hounds in bars, are totally welcome by me.

                                                                      1. m
                                                                        mojoeater Oct 15, 2007 06:24 PM

                                                                        I'll never forget being dive-bombed by a very large crow who decided my basket of tortilla chips was his next snack. That was disturbing and possibly dangerous, much more so than a cat or dog. And more difficult for the restaurant to control.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: mojoeater
                                                                          s
                                                                          smartie Oct 15, 2007 07:07 PM

                                                                          ha, I remember one of my servers coming off the patio to tell me some silly women at an outdoor table had said "if you must keep birds could you get some friendly ones, these have just landed on our table and eaten some of our food'. They were dead serious and did not believe the waitress when she told them they were wild crows and we had no control over them.

                                                                          1. re: mojoeater
                                                                            Quine Oct 16, 2007 02:05 AM

                                                                            Crows are becoming a HUGE problem in many places. They are incredibly crafty and learn fast where food is concerned. And they work in groups. Just google "crow tokyo" to get an idea.

                                                                            1. re: Quine
                                                                              a
                                                                              aurora50 Oct 19, 2007 01:06 PM

                                                                              Forget crows, how about dive-bombing seagulls???!!!!
                                                                              We were sitting down to eat hamburgers at Sea World once, and two of them swooped down and took the meat patties right out of our buns as we were holding them - never got a chance to take a bite.
                                                                              The servers, once informed, calmly replaced the meat - seems it happens all the time.

                                                                              1. re: aurora50
                                                                                c
                                                                                ctscorp Oct 22, 2007 07:39 PM

                                                                                Funny story: I was working at a grand hotel on a New England resort island one summer, and a seagull swooped down and stole a guest's muffin that he got for free from the continental breakfast buffet. He tried to get his room rate reduced for his "inconvenience." On an island! In the ocean! He clearly needed a longer vacation than he was on.

                                                                                1. re: ctscorp
                                                                                  alkapal Oct 23, 2007 04:12 AM

                                                                                  too funny. too true!

                                                                          2. jroxybabe19 Oct 15, 2007 06:16 PM

                                                                            Thanks Rick, thats more what I was talking about. And no i'm not up for the drama but always up for a good discussion.

                                                                            1. Quine Oct 15, 2007 04:05 PM

                                                                              Well, I would not say "stuck up" but maybe drama seeking. "What if I was allergic?" I often see people with their dogs tied up table side, or worst curbside, then they are inside. And Those mutts can bark, yelp, whine that it annoys everyone but the owner.

                                                                              I have seen plenty of posts here asking for places where they can bring dog, babies, toddlers, massive germ spreaders, server trippers and dining interruptions.

                                                                              I guess it is your frame of reference.

                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Quine
                                                                                r
                                                                                Rick Oct 15, 2007 06:15 PM

                                                                                I'll be the first to jump on and say I'd hate it if a cat jumped on my lap during dining. I have no desire to get their hair or germs on me or near me food.

                                                                                1. re: Rick
                                                                                  l
                                                                                  lagatta Oct 15, 2007 07:23 PM

                                                                                  Cats are cleaner than you or I am.

                                                                                  1. re: lagatta
                                                                                    m
                                                                                    MakingSense Oct 15, 2007 09:59 PM

                                                                                    Except for that little problem with taxoplasmosis which can cause birth defects and food borne illnesses.
                                                                                    A pregnant woman might want to think twice about sitting at a café table that a cat might have walked across or snoozed on if she's not sure that it hadn't been thoroughly disinfected before she ate her meal off of it. OBs warn about changing litter boxes and being very careful with outdoor cats of your own. Unknown cats might be especially risky when you can't control the environment.

                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                      revsharkie Oct 16, 2007 01:48 PM

                                                                                      Unless that cat was pretty sick, just the fact that it had laid on the table would not be enough to make someone sick. Plus, if you've ever been around the litterboxes of indoor/outdoor cats, you've probably been exposed to toxoplasmosis already, and I don't think you can get it again. There's a test, and if you have antibodies in your system, you don't have to worry about it, unless your immune system is seriously compromised.

                                                                                      Plus, personally, I eat my meal off a plate, not directly off the table.

                                                                                      1. re: revsharkie
                                                                                        m
                                                                                        MakingSense Oct 16, 2007 03:00 PM

                                                                                        I'm sure you would be horrified if someone let a dog or child walk all over a café table and a cat is no different except for perhaps size and that cats are known carriers of taxoplasmosis.
                                                                                        Of course, you eat from a plate, but you can't avoid touching the table or touching something that has touched the table such as your napkin or flatware during the course of your meal.
                                                                                        Would you put your plate on the floor and eat from it? Who wants to eat on a table that has been used as a floor by an animal?

                                                                                        Perhaps you have the antibodies against taxoplasmosis, perhaps not. Getting sick is rotten way to find out.
                                                                                        If you happen to be pregnant, it can cause birth defects. That's not worth taking a chance on however much you might adore cats.

                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                          revsharkie Oct 16, 2007 08:25 PM

                                                                                          I'm certain I have the antibodies. I've had a cat underfoot since I was six years old (I'm 39 now); all of them have been indoor/outdoor cats who had contact with wildlife. I'm responsible for cat box scooping. I have a calcification in one lung that the doctor tells me is the result of having had toxoplasmosis or histoplasmosis (which you get from exposure to bird poop), probably in my youth.

                                                                                          Given my houseful of cats, the only time I eat on a surface on which there hasn't been a cat...is when I go out to eat. But I wouldn't necessarily object to an outdoor cat at a restaurant with a patio, personally.

                                                                                          I truly think that, for most folks, the risk of getting toxoplasmosis from touching a napkin that was on a table that a cat might have walked on is pretty minimal. (And, you know, if those tables are outside on the patio all the time, heaven only knows what gets on them after hours, perhaps worse than a cat's feet.) Those at risk because of their immune systems might wish to eat indoors.

                                                                                          1. re: revsharkie
                                                                                            m
                                                                                            MakingSense Oct 16, 2007 09:21 PM

                                                                                            The ground underfoot is dirty. Feet that walk on it are dirty and shouldn't be on tables, whether they belong to people of any age, dogs, or cats, specific diseases aside.

                                                                                            Today, there are signs in restaurants warning against eating raw oysters and consuming alcohol during pregnancy, places that refuse to serve rare hamburgers or sunny-side-up eggs, butter can't be at room temperature. Small risks, but risks nonetheless.
                                                                                            Why would a restaurant allow a cat to stroll across food preparation and serving surfaces? Why would health regulations allow this?

                                                                                            You might well have antibodies protecting you but not everyone might be willing to live with calcified lungs as the price for enjoying cats in their lives. The risks might be minimal but they are avoidable if animals are simply not allowed on food preparation and serving surfaces.

                                                                                            Can you figure out a way to keep cats on the floor with the kids and dogs?

                                                                                          2. re: MakingSense
                                                                                            l
                                                                                            Leonardo Oct 16, 2007 08:52 PM

                                                                                            If you want to go that far as to worrying about all the "bad" things sitting on the table, then think about all the restos that place the chairs up on the tables at closing. Feet of the chairs resting on the table surface. If you dwell on this stuff you'll never eat out again.

                                                                                            1. re: Leonardo
                                                                                              Scrapironchef Oct 17, 2007 08:41 AM

                                                                                              Or when they turn them over.

                                                                                              Required disclaimer: I own two cats. They are not allowed on any surface that has food on it regularly -ie tables and counters. That's been true since the day we brought them home and they understand their limits. The whole Toxoplasmosis is a bit of a red herring, our vet, our perinatal specialist and my wife's ob/gyn said you have to be at crazy cat lady house full of cats level before this becomes a threat.

                                                                                              Makingsense -- Restos that are animal friendly on their patio are far from letting them wander about on the kitchen counters and prep surfaces, where have you seen this happening? I've never seen it and I've been in resto kitchens all over the world. Even in the most pet friendly places I've never seen them on tables in dining rooms. If you are eating outdoors you have way more to worry about than the cat snoozing in the sun on one of the chairs. Flies must just scare the bejabbers out of you.....

                                                                                              1. re: Scrapironchef
                                                                                                alkapal Oct 17, 2007 10:45 AM

                                                                                                right, scrap iron chef, they aren't on the tables if any kind of common sense person is around. confess: lifelong cat owner. cat(s) NEVER on tables/counters/food prep areas. love them. am smart!

                                                                                    2. re: Rick
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      JennS Oct 16, 2007 01:49 PM

                                                                                      I totally agree with Rick. I don't like seeing animals at restaurants and I would really hate it if a cat jumped on my lap.

                                                                                      1. re: Rick
                                                                                        ajs228 Oct 17, 2007 10:08 AM

                                                                                        Yeah, I agree. I'm allergic to cats and I generally don't want them near me; definately not when I'm eating. I love dogs, but I would let one sit on my lap during a meal. A lot of restaurants in Key West, FL have local cats that hang around the patios, and it never bothered me, as long as they remained decorative and not interactive.

                                                                                      2. re: Quine
                                                                                        marmite Oct 16, 2007 08:40 AM

                                                                                        <<I have seen plenty of posts here asking for places where they can bring dog, babies, toddlers, massive germ spreaders, server trippers and dining interruptions.>>

                                                                                        Amen! I'm waiting for the posts that ask 'where are the child-free restaurants?'
                                                                                        But back to the topic. I love cats and wouldn't mind in the least if some tried to share my chow, and I'd feel bad that they had to resort to begging. I do understand though that some people don't like/ are allergic to cats, and I can respect that.

                                                                                      3. t
                                                                                        Tay Oct 15, 2007 03:34 PM

                                                                                        I wouldn't refer to you as "stuck up" but it's not at all "odd". Nor is it really such a big deal. Personally, being a "pet person" I find it charming. I once stayed at an Inn that offered the choice of "catted" or "catless" rooms.
                                                                                        If you report them to the BOH then you are just being mean spirited. Simply do not patronize the place.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Tay
                                                                                          jroxybabe19 Oct 15, 2007 03:57 PM

                                                                                          No, I would never report them to the BOH, I have never seen such a thing and wanted to get view points on the situation. It does add character I just never thought of any kind of live animals and food mixing.

                                                                                        2. hrhboo Oct 15, 2007 03:26 PM

                                                                                          A lot of outdoor cafes and restaurants become a haven for a friendly neighborhood cat or two. I think it's charming and it doesn't bother me at all. If someone is allergic they can always inform the waitstaff, it isn't as though pet allergies are fatal or anything like that. I'm sure people with severe allergies can ask to sit inside or avoid the place in the future.

                                                                                          It makes me sad that something as relatively harmless as this can become a Board of Health issue, especially in an outdoor setting where it's harder to control everything. What about seagulls hanging out near seaside cafes? Should they be a concern for the board as well?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: hrhboo
                                                                                            m
                                                                                            Meann Oct 15, 2007 03:59 PM

                                                                                            Well, pet allergies are in the nose of the beholder, but the reality is that outdoor restaurants often have mouse and (shudder) rat issues. Trust me ... Puss is on your side.

                                                                                            1. re: Meann
                                                                                              b
                                                                                              beachmouse Oct 15, 2007 08:37 PM

                                                                                              It's common for the restuarants down here to work with the local feline trap-neuter-release groups because the feral cats are quite effective at rodent control as well as looking rather decorative when they flop around in the patio seating area.

                                                                                              As long as the cats are kept out of the kitchen, I find that they add to the outdoor dining experience, and they tend to be too skittish to think of jumping on a table or lap during dinner service. (If they are that people-friendly to the extreme, the t-n-r group tries to get them adopted out to a residential household)

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