Catios are a very good idea because they are an excellent compromise between providing an enriched environment for your cat and safety. In my opinion, many more people should build one or even better a full-blown enclosure in their backyard. However, as is highlighted by this story, you need to make sure that either planning permission is not required or if it is required that it is obtained.
The catio that went wrong
Sue and Richard Howarth live in Yorkshire, UK. According to The Yorkshire Post they have four cats, Chloe, Floyd, Freddie and Millie. They wanted, like any other responsible cat guardian, to ensure that their cats were safe so they built a 9 foot high and 13′ x 11.5′ feet catio but critically it was built in the front garden rather than at the rear (unaviable to build it at the rear?). It’s was built to a high quality and cost £10,000. A not unsubstantial amount of money which confirms that they are committed to the safety of their cats.
They did not, it appears, think about planning permission which resulted in a year-long battle to keep the catio because their neighbours complained about the construction. The local council ruled against them and told them that they had to dismantle it. They year-long battle to keep their catio has failed.
The picture above shows them dismantling it and they are both pleased that the matter is now over. They had tried to redesign it to find a compromise without success. The planning went against them because the catio detracted from the character of the buildings. As I remember, this is a row of terraced houses with some historical significance and they live in a conservation area, a critical fact that Sue and Richard were unaware of.
They are disappointed that Kirklees Council did not accept a lightweight version of the catio. They have maintained good relationships with their neighbours which is fortunate and now their cats go outside which is typical of British owned cats. Sue is a little anxious about this but it appears that she has to accept it. One councillor, Donna Bellamy, supported the Howarths and was surprised that the council rejected the compromise design.
The Howarths had many supporters as indicated by an online petition which attracted over 11,000 signatures. The Yorkshire Post also tells us that it was backed by Jackson Galaxy in America. The lesson learned is that you have to make sure that planning permission is not required before building a structure such as this which is quite large. Perhaps the worst part about it is that you can get into an argument with your neighbours. This almost invariably has a big negative impact upon your lifestyle and can sometimes force people to move. Fortunately, as mentioned, in this instance the neighbours still get along nicely.