World First: customer sues cat cafe owner over bite!

A customer is suing the Denver Cat Company after she says a cat bit her hand, and the bite got infected.

It had to happen but it should never happen. A customer, Sue Hodges, was enjoying the cats and coffee at the Denver Cat Company cat café when she was bitten by one of the cats. The bite become infected and required antibiotics. Time was taken off work.

“[Morpheus] flipped onto his back when my mom still had her hand out,” Jamrogiewicz told 9NEWS. “When she was going down to continue petting him, he bit her on her hand rather aggressively and wouldn’t let go for at least 15-20 seconds.”

There is a warning in the café that people pet cats at their own risk, as I understand it.

“pet at their own risk.”

Judging by what was said Morpheus was playing and got a bit aggressive but it was still play. The fact that the Morpheus would not let go indicates classic play in holding on and biting (but not at full force).

Sue Hodges should have known how to get out of this cat hold. She should have remained passive, not pulled her hand away and if needs be grabbed the scruff of the cat’s neck with her free hand. This would have induced the passive kitten mode.  Do you have a better technique?

By the time she had freed her hand it was bleeding in about 8 places she claims. She was treated at the café but decided that she had to attend a clinic because she thought the bite was infected.

The charge was $305. She asked the cat café owner for compensation in that amount. The owner, Sana Hamelin, refused.

They failed to agree on compensation. It is debatable whether compensation is due at all bearing in mind the warning. Customers are given due notice. I’d be surprised if Hodges has a case but she has commenced legal proceedings for compensation in the amount of $5,920 (a somewhat inflated figure compared to the original demand).

Hodges claims that the cat café knew that Morpheus was dangerous which is strongly denied.

The cat café’s arrangement with a local cat rescue to supply cats has been terminated by the rescue organisation because of the litigation. They got cold feet probably because of a fear of being sued themselves.

This has put an added burden on the café which is owned and run by Hamelin i.e. it is not backed by a large company but independently owned and managed. They don’t have a lot of cash and no doubt what has happened has made them have second thoughts about the viability of the business.

It certainly does cast doubts about whether something similar will happen again and if so it would probably be intolerable. It would make the cat cafe unworkable.

The litigation should fail, in my opinion. If not, all cat cafés in the USA will have to rethink how they can avoid litigation. It must come down to clear signs in the cafe warning clients that they pet cats at their own risk. All clients should be made aware of the sign. They may even have to sign a disclaimer on entering the place. But this erodes the pleasure of being in the place. Part of the fun is to interact with the cats.

I’d expect some cat cafés are reviewing their procedures.

Source: Pet at your own risk? Cat cafe faces lawsuit over bite

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8 thoughts on “World First: customer sues cat cafe owner over bite!”

  1. Even in play, a cat may scratch or bite. My advice is to not go somewhere where cats are in abundance unless you know cats very well.

    As stated in many other articles, cat bites and scratches aren’t lethal unless their is a rabies risk.

    Wimps in this world will run to a clinic. PLEASE!!! Wash it off with soap, apply antibiotic ointment, and get on with your day. Ofcourse, some can be very nasty, but that’s why we have immune systems. The swelling and inflammation will go away whether we see a doc or not.

    Trust that I know. I’ve been bitten and ripped apart by the best, even a baby bobcat, and have never sought treatment.

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  2. The sign is a great idea providing the customers actually read it. Too many signs are ignored with similar results. Altering the sign like Sandra suggests could be disastrous for the cats. An inexperienced hand can cause harm.

    Plus, the sad reality is that even with a sign, the cafe owners are probably going to be considered in the wrong. The results will be a horrendous fine/settlement and execution for Morpheus for being a savage beast.

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  3. Add to this the likelihood the cat was declawed – this increases the tendency to use the teeth and removes an early warning of play getting too serious (once the claws start to grasp, I keep my hand still). If you’re not prepared for the possibility of bites, don’t pet the cats. I hope Morpheus doesn’t end up paying with his life, something that’s a very real possibility in a situation like this.

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  4. I think that in addition to the sign “Pet at your own risk” there should be a large sign that indicates what to do if a cat does grab someone’s hand. Simple instructions, and maybe even have people sign something with these instructions, indicated they’ve read them.

    Suggested Sign: WARNING-Cats may bite or scratch
    DO NOT PULL AWAY! STOP MOVING! or
    GRAB SCRUFF to STOP behavior!

    I too hope that this case doesn’t get a cat hating judge. I wonder about this woman who chose to go to a cat cafe, and how much experience she actually had with cats. Can anyone have a cat without getting scratched or bit in play? It’s part of the “risk” that cat lovers willingly take.

    So many people aren’t able to take responsibility for their own actions, and look to “blame” someone, anyone, while finding a way to make some money through litigation. Unfortunately our system encourages this.

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  5. Hate to say it, but I’m not surprised the first person to sue a cat cafe happens to be an American. It may be an undeserved stereotype, but Americans do seem especially litigious. Money is clearly the goal in this case, hence the inflated amount of compensation now being claimed. Lets hope that whomever presides over the case in court is not a cat hater.

    I’m assuming that the cafe has some kind of public liability inusrance to cover these kind of claims, so I hope it won’t put them out of business.

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  6. I can’t believe this.I regularly visit a cat cafe to spend time with the cats and take my 6 year old niece who also enjoys playing with the cats.I often think if one of the cats bit one of us what would happen but one thing I know is I would NEVER expect the cat cafe to pay for any medical bills. The cat cafe I attend rescues unwanted cats and cats waiting to be euthanized so the last thing they should have to worry about is forking money out to people who should know that animals do bite and scratch and accidents do happen.if people aren’t prepared to fix the problem themselves especially when there is a sign up saying so well stay away and let people visit who are prepared to do the right thing.this will end up being another fantastic idea to help animals that will stop because of people who are greedy and don’t have any compassion.MONEY TALKS.

    Reply

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