Man with autism wants to sue Sainsbury’s for banning his assistance cat from its stores

Ian Fenn is ready to fight Sainsbury’s in court after they refused entry to his helping cat Chloe, saying the animals pose a food hygiene risk despite being welcome on public transport and pubs

Jan Fenn
Ian Fenn says Chloe’s ban will limit his independence

Sainsbury’s is facing a legal challenge for an autistic customer after banning its companion cat from its stores.

The supermarket giant has instructed writer Ian Fenn that his companion Chloe is not welcome when shopping for his groceries.

The London man says he has trained the pet to help him navigate his way through daily life.

Sainsbury’s, which allows service dogs in the workshop, told him cats pose a food hygiene risk and they can’t get inside.

Ian says the cat eases his anxiety in busy and noisy environments and now a court battle looms as he refuses to accept her reasons for excluding Chloe.

The helpful Chloe wears a service cat jacket but is not welcome at Sainsbury’s


He takes her on public transport after they meet in a pub, but after picking up the boot from the shop in Clapham, south London, refuses to let things go.

The case could set a precedent if it has to be decided by senior judges, the BBC report said.

“I realized that my life was much better with her — there are a lot of autistic people who have depression. I’m not alone anymore,” he says.

“I appreciate that a guy walking around with a cat is a bit unusual, but the truth is I don’t want that attention – I just want to live my life normally.

The supermarket argues that cats pose food hygiene risks



“So when someone says, ‘No, you can’t because you have this creature helping you,’ it’s really annoying. In busy environments I get sensory overload and tend to switch off. But with Chloe I can focus on her.

“She brings structure to my life, she wakes me up in the morning, she tells me what time to go to bed.

“It’s difficult to know how she feels about the relationship, but I feel like we’re a team now.”

Sainsbury’s says the company is working with an environmental health team to determine how Ian and Chloe can visit safely.

Assistance dogs are allowed – and Ian plans to take matters further



In a statement, the supermarket said: “We aim to be an inclusive retailer, where people enjoy working and shopping and understand that some of our colleagues and customers may need support in our stores.

“At the same time, safety is our top priority and our colleagues are trained to balance maintaining our high food hygiene standards with support for all of our customers who shop from us.

“We are in contact with the local environmental health team to see if we can help Mr. Fenn visit our store without jeopardizing that.”

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