Dogs at Restaurants, Yes; Cats at Restaurants, No

A New York State bill set to pass will permit dogs at all outdoor restaurant seats but fails to mention cats. Think that's fair?

New Yorkers won big this week when New York State Senate approved a bill, by a whopping 60-0 vote, allowing diners to have their canine counterparts share an outdoor dining space with them at food establishments. The bill, which was voted for on Wednesday and handed to the State Assembly for review, specifies that all dogs must be kept on leashes, accompanied by a human, kept away from cooking areas and entrances, and provided their own single-serve water bowl (no shared beverages among dogs) – stipulations that can easily be met in order to have the company of “man’s best friend” while dining.

“People consider dogs and other animals to be just another member of the family,” Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, the bill’s sponsor and a self-professed “big animal champion,” was quoted in the New York Times as saying. “When you sit down to dinner, it’s your husband, your partner, your wife, your kids and your dog.”

If passed by the State Assembly (the bill sponsors are confident that there will be no objections), restaurant owners will have the ability to set their own policy regarding the furry creatures – either allowing them to dine, or turning them away.

Hooray for dog owners; but the cat world is hissing at the news for one very important reason: cats were never addressed in the bill, leaving feline fanciers feeling spurned at the notion that they (and their kitties) may have been discriminated against.

Blogs on and the Albany Times Union both bring up the exclusion of cats from the restaurant bill. In fact, the Albany blog asks, “Can a State Truly Be Free if You Can’t Take Your Cat to a Restaurant?”

Will cats be able to share the sidewalk with their owners? Will the fur fly between feline and canine diners? Only time will tell.

What are your thoughts? Should cats be allowed to dine at outdoor restaurants, or should that privilege be reserved for dogs?

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