One of Perthshire’s biggest catteries is facing closure over a council diktat that could slash its income by 80%.
Flatfield Cattery in Errol currently has enough space to house 60 animals, but Perth and Kinross Council is insisting it is no longer up to scratch.
Despite approving the cattery’s operations annually for the past 30 years, the local authority is now attempting to impose national guidelines first brought in more than 20 years ago, which state all cats must have individual exercise areas attached to their sleeping quarters.
The cattery currently has three large open runs, to which vaccinated cats are allowed access either one at a time or in family groups, and separate individual bedding areas.
However the council is now demanding owners Paul and Liz Eddy install the smaller individual runs, which they say would leave them severely out of pocket.
“We have to redo our existing cattery or completely rebuild it,” Paul said. “Redoing would cost £15,000 to £20,000, which would reduce our capacity to 11 cats. Our income would reduce by 80%, which is not really viable.
“A new cattery would cost around £140,000 but we are a small family business and to do that in a year is not possible.
“We don’t understand how we can be considered ok for 30 years without a whisper of needing to change and then they suddenly dump this on us.
“We asked them if we could come up with a plan to do it over three or five years and they refused point blank.”
Liz added many people prefer their set up as there is more space and it allows customers with large numbers of cats to house and exercise them together.
Flatfield customer Neil Robertson, of Dundee, said: “It seems, frankly, ridiculous that what has worked perfectly well for decades should all of a sudden be deemed unsuitable.
“We have been taking our cat to Flatfield at least twice a year for the last 16 years and we would not have kept returning unless we were perfectly happy with the standards of care and accommodation at the cattery.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are required to inspect every animal care business to ensure that the welfare of the animal is a priority and there is no risk to their wellbeing.
“In 2016, to ensure compliance via a hierarchy of controls a full inspection was carried out at Flatfield Cattery where a number of animal welfare issues were highlighted and the owners were informed of what steps needed to be taken so that a licence could be granted moving forward.
“The owners were given 12 months to comply and come back to the council with a programme of planned works which so far has not been provided. Officers have offered to work with the owners and provide advice as they consider their options moving forward and this offer remains in place.
“It is with regret that we are in this position, however, the welfare of the animals being looked after must be the top priority.”