Are Cats Allowed in Restaurants? The Facts Explained

Cats are a tricky subject when it comes to eating establishments. Dogs are already so restricted inside places like stores and restaurants, so cats don’t have a shot at achieving similar equality. If you have a cat, you might wonder where you can bring him inside this world. Are cats allowed in restaurants, or should you leave them at home?

Unfortunately, in most cases, cats are not allowed in restaurants, unless the space is specifically for cats. This rule doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon, unfortunately. Cats need to stay out of restaurants, except for at a select few small places.

Read on to learn more about the rules and regulations regarding cats inside public eating spaces. There’s a lot to consider with the laws that keep cats out of places where people eat food. We’ll talk about everything you possibly need to know about cats and places where meals are served to patrons.

What Are the Laws on Cats in Restaurants? 

In most places, cats are not allowed inside restaurants. The FDA has strong rules against pets of any kind in the interior of restaurants. This limitation extends to other animals, such as birds, dogs, and lizards. Your pet can wait for you outside, but they’re not permitted on the premises of the establishment.

Below, we’ll dive a little further into some of the reasons cats aren’t permitted inside restaurants. These restrictions could change in the future, but for the time being, felines will need to wait outside an eatery, rather than inside. There are several reasons why the FDA has this stance.

Why Are Cats Not Allowed in Restaurants?

As we mentioned above, there are several reasons why cats aren’t allowed inside restaurants. Although it may not seem fair, the FDA has solid reasoning behind its decision. It’s vital to come to an understanding of why they made this choice. The choice was not intended to harm cats, but rather keep patrons safe.

A few of the reasons cats aren’t allowed inside restaurants include:

  • Excrement around food: Cats pee and poop. If this occurs inside the place of eating, there’s a huge risk of contamination and loss of appetite. It’s hard to come back from that.

  • Hair contamination: Hair from your cat could float in the air, landing on food and destroying the experience for patrons.

  • Allergies/Asthma: You never know when someone could be allergic to your cat. A pet inside a restaurant could cause a dangerous reaction that the place could be liable for at the end of the day.

All of these, and more, will continue to keep cats outside for the time being.

Now that you know why cats aren’t permitted in places of eating, are there any places that provide exceptions for felines? We’ll talk about some states that provide a little more freedom for cats below.

Are There Any Places Cats Are Allowed in Restaurants?

There are a few states that allow cats around restaurants. Although most of them don’t permit cats physically inside the place, cats are permitted to partake in outdoor dining. They can sit below the feet of the owner, or even on the lap if you’re comfortable with that.

A few of the states that provide exceptions for cats include:

  • California

  • Florida

  • Maryland

  • New York

  • New Mexico

All of these allow freedom for cats that other states have chosen to limit. Certain counties are more likely to be cat-friendly than others, so keep this in mind when searching.

If you have a cat you want to go to restaurants, one of these states will serve you well. It’s vital to consider these locations if your cat is a huge part of your life. Cat-friendly restaurants are popular in beach cities, particularly in states like California and Florida.

How Do You Find Cat-Friendly Restaurants?

If you want to find a cat friendly restaurant, it’s best to check them out in-person or visit their website. An excellent establishment will let you know right away if felines are welcome outside or inside their dining space. You can even call them and ask if cats are welcome. They should answer you without further question.

Some places outright do not want felines in their restaurant. It’s best to respect their wishes and move on if this is the case. It’s their business, and they have the right to keep cats out if they wish. There are sure to be other options out there, as each restaurant has their own set of rules.

Should Cats Be Allowed in Restaurants? 

Should cats be allowed inside restaurants? This question is a tricky one. On one hand, many want to experience life with their felines. It can feel comforting to have them in a restaurant, just like at home. On the other hand, cats can pose an allergy threat to some, and their hair and excrement can ruin an atmosphere.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the establishment to determine what the right move is for their place. Respect their wishes as a cat owner, as this question is one of the hardest a company may have to face. There’s plenty of reasons for allowing them and plenty against cats.


Unfortunately, cats are not currently allowed inside restaurants. Although there are some exceptions, these are few and far between. Most of the time, felines are excluded from those who are allowed inside an eatery setting. There are many reasons why this is the case, including the risk of hair in food.

Perhaps one day, cats will be allowed inside a restaurant setting to some capacity. However, for the time being, you need to keep your pet at home. You can walk your cat around outside a place of eating, but you can’t keep them with you while you enjoy a nice, fancy meal. If you want them with you, you can search for a place that will permit you to keep them.


Also read: How Do Cat Cafes Pass Health Inspections?

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