Multi-cat homes should have to comply with enhanced fire safety regulations

Fires in multi-cat homes are going to kill more cats than in single cat homes. That is obvious. There are many homes with a large number of cats. The owner does not have to comply with any special fire safety regulations. But in the UK, in houses of multiple occupation (of people) there are a plethora of rules including fire safety rules such as providing smoke alarms on each story, providing carbon monoxide alarms and extinguishers etc. Landlords of houses in multiple occupation must follow safety regulations. They must keep their property safe and free from the health hazards under specific regulations.

Multi-cat homes should be subject to tougher regulations of safety
Multi-cat homes should be subject to tougher regulations of safety. The fire where 11 rescue cats died. Photo: Wayne Martin of the Times Online.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I believe that it is reasonable to suggest that if a person wants to keep ten or more cats in a home, they should also have to comply with the same regulations that apply to landlords of homes of multiple occupation.

If this happened it would have two effects. Firstly, it would stop a lot of people having ten or more cats (including cat hoarders) which I believe would be a good thing as hoarders are often unintentional cat abusers due to acute neglect. Secondly, it would protect the lives of cats in fires which brings me nicely to a story in the online news media today. It is the story of a house fire that killed rescued cats. Yes, cats that had been rescued from a difficult life only to be killed. But it is unexceptional. Weekly if not daily you can read about house fires in which cats have been killed.

And there have been several house fires in which rescued cats have been killed. Cat hoarding is not unexceptional either. My neighbour is a cat hoarder. Her house is a mess. The chance of a fire is more likely than normal. Cats need to be protected. We treat cats as members of the family. Many cat owners regard their cats as equals. Yet the law is very unequal in terms of protecting cats under these circumstances.

The story I have referred to occurred in East Auckland. Firefighters responded to a call from neighbours of a two-storey house and about 10:40 AM on July 28. The owner of the home, Jewels Annabell, was not there at the time the fire broke out. She is a member of the Community Cat Coalition. She is behind the Street Kitties cat rescue and rehoming service which she managed from her house.

She is a committed and established cat rescuer and, in her home, there were many cats that she had rescued but the fire claimed 11 of their lives many of them were inside cages in the lounge when the fire killed them. It is a horrific thought.

I believe her home should have had extra fire safety precautions in place. This may have happened but I very much doubt it. Cat rescue facilities, which is what her home was, should be treated as functional facilities. They are no longer simply homes for people. They are part of a business, the business of rescuing cats and kittens. These homes should be subject to industrial or workplace standards. And they should at least be subject to the same regulations that govern landlords of homes of multiple occupation in the interest of saving the lives of cats and kittens.

A purpose-built facility would certainly be subject to tougher safer measures. Sixteen of the cats in Annabell’s home survived. She has to find somewhere where she can live with her cats. She doesn’t want them fostered out because she wants her cats with her. All the surviving cats have been placed with different veterinary practices for treatment. Crowdfunding is helping to pay for her veterinary bills. She will be keen to hear from anybody who can help provide her and her cats with accommodation. Of course, she’s heartbroken and feels guilty about her cats dying in the fire.

She admits that “There are things I could have done differently which would have meant more of them would have survived”. I would argue that all of them could have survived if stronger safety precautions where in place.

The cause of the fire was not suspicious. Perhaps it was an electrical fault; something as innocuous as that. The standards of the electrics in a home like this where there are very many cats should be higher than that in normal homes. These are the sort of regulations I’m referring to. There should be annual inspections for electrics and gas. More needs to be done to protect cats in homes where there are a large number of cats.


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