Neighbors complain about a catio for blind and deaf cats

A woman living in London, UK, is embroiled in a council planning row and a dispute with complaining neighbours because she installed a modest sized cat enclosure for blind cats in her back garden (backyard). Her name is Josie Hitchens.

Catio for blind cats in London

Hitchens’ blind cat catio. Photo: Hackney Gazette.

Josie looks after four blind and one deaf cat. She says that she has a learning difficulty and suffers from PTSD. Her cats are her therapy. She claims that the council is disinterested in her mental health.

“I have several therapy blind cats and they help me with my PTSD symptoms, but the council is not interested in this.”

She erected the catio in the garden of her ground floor apartment in 2012. A neighbour complained in November 2016. In fact we are told that there were complaints so more than one neighbour complained and I’ll assume that they contacted the local council. Subsequently a planning officer visited to inspect it with the intention of assessing if it breached planning regulations.

Although Josie says the free standing enclosure is not an extension of her apartment, Hackney Council have told her that the six-foot high structure requires planning permission.

“Hackney Council are saying it’s an extension, which it is not as far as I am concerned…It is not fixed to the wall. It does not touch the wall. I can poke a finger through it.

It does not take up more than 50 per cent of my garden and cannot be viewed by any other gardens – you would need to look over using a ladder or a roof terrace to see it.”

Catio for blind cats

Catio for blind cats and a deaf cat in London. Photo: Hackney Gazette.

She’ll have to apply for planning permission retrospectively or she’ll have to remove it. It would be very sad to remove it. I would cautiously expect a planning application to be successful.

It is unusual for a person to care for four blind cats while living in a London apartment. This is a very built up area. The garden will be small. It looks like the catio takes up a good part of the garden.

Josie said that she does a lot of voluntary work with stray cats. Almost all her rescue cats have health issues. She feels that she is being targeted and is the victim of a hate campaign. Here is Josie’s comment:

This is my catio.

it has been in my garden since 2012. It used to house my g.pig and rabbit as a safe place for them to play during the day and at night allow my deaf cat boo to roam. she is geriatric now at 11 years old. There is nothing wrong with having blind cats – they are perfectly able to get around as well as seeing cats. it is very important their environment does not change, and they should be able to get the same entitlement as a seeing cat if I can provide it, as I have done.

The catio is held together with cable ties, can be moved around my garden, has no external or internal walls, no foundations, is not fixed to the floor or the wall of the property. It has no electrics, running water or roof (unless you count chicken wire as a roof). it takes up less than 50% of my garden (the angle of the pic is not good for that perspective)

It is just 1 neighbour that complained to the council about a “cat cage”. The council came to view it and they have determined it is a ground floor single story extension that I have “developed”. The council have already said in an email I will NOT get planning permission for this.

It is no different in its make up to the gazebo that sits above it.

This is part of an orchestrated campaign of hate against me by a few ill motivated individuals. It took the (1 neighbour) 4 years to complain about it. It then took a full year for the council to come around and view it and determine it as a “grounnd floor single story extension”.

The council have ignored my emails ALL WEEK. I did not go to the press lightly.

Thank you peeps!

Comment: She should have checked with the council about planning permission but I can fully understand the omission. She should apply immediately and argue her case. She may succeed. She seems to be reluctant to do this as she complains about the council ignoring her mental health which is not strictly relevant to this planning application.

UPDATE: Josie has visited the site and left comments. I have published it on this page (see above) to ensure that it is read.

I have a feeling that as the houses are on top of each other it is easy for a neighbour to hear the cats and if you don’t like cats they’ll object. She may have fended off complaints already and then someone notified the council because they did not get any satisfaction from Josie Hitchens. I have guessed the narrative but it is probably something like that.

The general mood from readers will be that the council are being harsh and I’d hope that an application made now would succeed bearing in mind the cat welfare aspect and the benefit to the cats’ guardian. Not everyone wants to adopt a blind or deaf cat. This lady is doing good and useful work.

Sources: Hackney Gazette and Evening Standard. Her flat is at Digby Crecent, Finsbury Park, London.

Digby Crescent

Digby Crescent. Photo: Google.




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Comments

Neighbors complain about a catio for blind and deaf cats — 12 Comments

  1. I wonder if this is resolved. Josie must be a very kind soul to care for four blind cats. They are lucky cats. The council should also be proud and supportive of those who go out of their way to help animals and people!

    Some neighbours being petty and cruel methinks.

  2. I have plans for an outside catio eventually and here in Watertown,New York USA I have to get a permit even though it is my own private property which is absurd because ye cannot see my back yard from the front and my neighbors on each side of my home are a good distance away but I hope Josie apply asap for the planning commission.

  3. This is my catio.

    it has been in my garden since 2012. It used to house my g.pig and rabbit as a safe place for them to play during the day and at night allow my deaf cat boo to roam. she is geriatric now at 11 years old. There is nothing wrong with having blind cats – they are perfectly able to get around as well as seeing cats. it is very important their environment does not change, and they should be able to get the same entitlement as a seeing cat if I can provide it, as I have done.

    The catio is held together with cable ties, can be moved around my garden, has no external or internal walls, no foundations, is not fixed to the floor or the wall of the property. It has no electrics, running water or roof (unless you count chicken wire as a roof). it takes up less than 50% of my garden (the angle of the pic is not good for that perspective)

    It is just 1 neighbour that complained to the council about a “cat cage”. The council came to view it and they have determined it is a ground floor single story extension that I have “developed”. The council have already said in an email I will NOT get planning permission for this.

    It is no different in its make up to the gazebo that sits above it.

    This is part of an orchestrated campaign of hate against me by a few ill motivated individuals. It took the (1 neighbour) 4 years to complain about it. It then took a full year for the council to come around and view it and determine it as a “grounnd floor single story extension”.

    The council have ignored my emails ALL WEEK. I did not go to the press lightly.

    Thank you peeps!

    • at this point I want to say I also have some utterly fantastic neighbours. The campagain of hate against me by a few has only served to strenghten those relationships with them. I used to do a lot of community stuff with stray cats (help with getting cats to the vets for neutering and dealing with feral colonies) sadly this work is now on hold while I deal with this and other orchestrated issues. Working with animals greatly reduces my PTSD and helps me to be able to function on a more productive level 🙂

    • Hi Josie. Many thanks indeed for visiting and giving me the hard facts which I very much appreciate. What you say is disturbing. It does all point to a campaign against you. What is the motivation? You say it is a few ill motivated individuals. Is it because they hate cats? I would still apply for planning permission and then appeal it if it is rejected. Please don’t give up. Thanks again for visiting.

      I will add your comment to the article as it provides valuable added information.

  4. I can add on to my home as long as there is not electrical involved and even then it’s doubtful my county would give a crap.
    That said you should always inquire before building as someone down the road here decided to build a new house with no permits. It was red tagged and eventually tore down. Though they used it as storage with no issues for years. There are often different regulations regarding what is permanent and mobile structures.

  5. Where I live in the U.S. if such a structure attached to a building, if it has something like 50% free flowing air (non solid walls or screened) then it doesn’t count as a building extension. It’s not living space for humans. It is not added square footage, which is the deciding factor. I built such a structure with confidence.

    4 blind and one deaf cat would be great therapy; probably the best. I myself have ptsd/depression and had a blind cat. My concern went to him and my other cats instead of ruminating on my own malady, so it is very good therapy.

    The cats aren’t illegal or bothering anyone and the catio looks well built. I think the neighbors are being petty and the city council will probably see it that way. If anything they might impose some minor extra requirement (like an inspection fee) and okay the structure, putting a period at the end of this stupid complaint.

    • I seems that the USA have less stringent rules on planning. That may be because there is so much space in the US. I love that US space! I agree the neighbor’s are being petty but it gets that way in London. We are too compressed together. It’s a bit unnatural and can lead to disputes.

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