Jacob Trossman loves cats, which is why his aunt decided to take him to a café in Toronto where customers can mingle with furry felines on Sunday.
It was supposed to be a special moment to mark his 16th birthday, but he was never let inside.
Trossman’s mother Marcy White told Global News on Thursday her son was denied access to Meow Cat Café because of his wheelchair.
“I can’t believe that in midtown Toronto, this would happen” White said.
The excuse the Mount Pleasant Road café gave them, said White, is that the government gave them a special permission to ban all wheelchairs from the premises.
White said the café would have allowed him indoors — if he left his wheelchair outside. But that would have been impossible because Trossman has a neurodegenerative disorder which interrupts the signal transmission of his nerves.
Meow Cat Café co-owner Erica Yun refused an interview with Global News. She said, however, she understands why people would be upset by the no-wheelchair policy, but they have a responsibility to keep their cats safe.
Yun said in the past a cat was injured by a patron in a wheelchair, which is why the policy exists. She denied ever saying the cafe has a permit from the government to deny wheelchair access, but said the city told her they could.
She later claimed it was the Toronto police who told her she has the right to refuse any customer. Yun said her “priority is the cats,” not the people. If she was told she had to allow wheelchairs inside, she said she would simply close the café.
White said what the Meow Cat Café did was simply discrimination.
“I think it’s heartbreaking,” White said. “He has challenges, but going to a place that was supposed to be a special place for a treat for a birthday celebration with a cousin and an aunt was meant to be a very positive outing and a fun thing to do.”