Claire Patel, 38, lives in Holloway, North London, UK. She is the caretaker of two cats one of whom is an Abyssinian and the other is a Burmese of equal beauty. Their names are Xander and Copperpot respectively.
She appears to live in an town house (terraced or ‘row house’). She built a catio on the roof of the house extension. She built it without planning permission. Islington Council complained that the £2,500 wooden framed enclosure which successfully housed both Xander and Copperpot did not have planning permission. They said that it had to come down.
Catios are becoming more trendy. They are popular in the US although they could be used more often. They are often extensions to a house, custom-built by a carpenter/builder, providing safe outdoor space for domestic cats.
Mrs Patel’s catio was modest in size but enough to allow her cats to get some outdoor sensations and smells. It included ornamental plants, shelves and cushions. It was 2 meters high.
Mrs Patel dismantled her catio as ordered and within six weeks her Abyssinian cat was gone. Mrs Patel is positive that Xander would not have broken out of the house to his freedom if the catio had remained in place.
“All that Xander really wanted was just a spot to sit outside to chase flies and look at the birds. That little tiny space totally satisfied him and his little need to have a bit of air.”
Mrs Patel is convinced that Xander has been stolen. Although he had escaped the house before the catio was built. Mrs Patel lives with her husband, a financial analyst, and their 11-month-old baby in central London. Her mother was a Burmese cat breeder. She said:
“He’s escaped a couple of times. He gets lost. He is not an outdoor cat and gets very disorientated. If he ever gets out he only stays out for a few hours. Generally when he doesn’t come back he has got himself into trouble. We have been knocking on doors, handing out leaflets trying to find him.
We know he goes to the place where the men had picked him up.”
She’s referring to two men acting suspiciously who were seen to have picked up Xander the day before he went missing. They put him down when they were noticed. She believes that they returned to steal him after the catio had been dismantled.
Islington Council apparently refused to answer Mrs Patel’s phone calls and officials never visited to check out the catio. They say that the size, design and location of the catio meant that it required planning permission. Mrs Patel actually should have requested planning permission before constructing it and she probably would have succeeded in the application.
A further observation is that Xander had escaped before and therefore one has to come to the reluctant conclusion that Mrs Patel has been a little bit careless with respect to the welfare of her precious purebred Abyssinian cat.
That said, it would not surprise me if Xander has been stolen. Is not unusual for purebred cats to be stolen in and around London because there is quite a lot of profit in pedigree cats and dogs. The moral of the story is to seek planning permission if you want to build a cat enclosure or at least check out whether you need it and secondly, ideally, to prevent your cat from roaming around the neighbourhood in a built-up area. This is simply unsafe and can lead to distress for cat and owner.
Source: Times Newspaper