East Cambs & Defra Licensing

Last updated : 11th June 2021

License Details & Background

Fordham Boarding Cattery is fully inspected and licensed by East Cambridge District Council (ECDC) in compliance with the current Defra regulations of 1st October 2018 - license number 22/00752/ANIMAL.

The new regulations introduced as of 1st October 2018 attempted to create a single standard nationwide animal licensing framework to cover not only Catteries and Kennels but also home-boarding, Zoo's and Circuses.

The final regulations were only made available to the local licensing councils who then passed onto relevant local businesses in July 2018, given that the regulations came into effect as of 1st October 2018, this put an enormous load on all effected.

The regulations introduced a huge number of requirements for documentation of policies and procedures, staff training & annual reviews, and the creation of a 5-star rating system.

Fordham Boarding Cattery has always prided itself with being an industry leader in improving standards for the welfare of the cats in our care and the service and support given to our clients.

We have on a number of occasions provided advice, guidance and support to other catteries as we believe in the general improvement in the sector and have even provided our documents on policy and procedures to assist other catteries that would have failed the new license requirements.

While we support the general intentions of the new regulations there are a number of flaws with the regulations that are not in the interests of the cats in our care, are not what our clients desire, some which are discriminatory in our view and other that we believe to be illegal.

We have raised all these concerns to ECDC who whilst are sympathetic and in general in agreement, have advised that Defra have ignored all of the issues raised by ECDC themselves and are therefore powerless to vary from the Defra guidelines.

Defra have knowingly introduced legislation that is prejudice against any existing cattery built to previous regulations and industry standards. It is not reasonable or practical and in some areas such as the larger pen sizes possible to meet these higher standards. Defra have not provided any alternative means to allow existing facilities to achieve a 5-star rating. It is therefore discriminatory against any person that owns a cattery built to these previously accepted standards and requirements. We believe this to be illegal and for ECDC this means they are being asked to implement on an illegal basis. This predefined exclusion of our facilities may have a financial detrimental effect on our daily business and the future sale or our business. There are simple, viable and effective best practices to achieve the same results as described below which we believe should be included as an alternative.

We will therefore be making a formal complaint directly to Defra in due course and will advise here if we get any response.

We will be writing to the "Head of" the relevant Defra division (as there is no document owner) for these areas to be addressed immediately - we would at least expect them to be reviewed at the next scheduled review but there is no "document review date" which is strange as all our policies and procedures must be reviewed annually as is typical in any ISO type implementation.

5-Star Rating System

The introduction of the new 5-Star rating system is intended to give potential new clients a clear indication of the quality of the Cattery in question.

Fordham Boarding Cattery has not advertised for 5 years + and even before that we only advertised in the local parish news to support the local publication.

We rely purely on our reputation and the recommendation of our existing clients and Veterinary practices who recommend us - so a huge THANKS to them all.

As our regular clients know too well, we are booked up very early. As of 4th January 2019 we now have cats booked everyday throughout the year to 5th January 2020.

Fordham Boarding Cattery was voted by the public "Best Cat Boarding Service in the East of England" under the GHP Animal Health & Wellness awards 2018.

The 5-star rating under the new system is only available to Catteries that meet all the minimum standards and ALL the higher standards.

Fordham Boarding Cattery achieves all minimum standards and all but three of the higher standards and has been given a three star rating.

It is impossible for us to acheive the 5-star rating without major structural changes to the cattery which are not viable physically, let alone cost effective, are also not in the best interest of the cats and are not what our clients wish us to make.

We understand that there is also no option to progress from 3-star to 4-star - a 4-star rating is only for a 5-star Cattery at high risk of failing?? - Go figure. This is against any other star rating system used in any other relevant sector such as food hygiene or hotel accommodation and as such is fundamentally flawed making the star rating system invalid.

The 5-Star rating does not in any way look at the customer service levels, customer policies and operating practices a Cattery gives its clients.

It is clear that the star rating is not a fair representation of the quality of care given to the cats boarded with us or the customer service levels we give and below is further detailed explanation of the three requirements we "fail" on for you to make an informed judgement yourselves.

Higher Standard 1 not achieved

"A member of staff with an OFQUAL regulated Level 3 qualification in a relevant subject must be present during the working day."

Our "Working Day" is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 for leap years as we don't get that off either) and yes there really is someone here all day and night every day.

We are staffed with a ratio of 1 person to every 20 cats which meets the highest rating and we believe is one of the highest of any cattery in the area.

We do not believe that it is reasonable or practical for any cattery to really meet this requirement properly i.e. a OFQUAL level 3 qualified person on site 24/7/365.

Neither Keren Goff or Trevor Goff have any relevant qualifications, clearly the 10 years' experience of running this highly popular cattery is irrelevant as is the huge amount of experience we have as cat owners ourselves and the to date 375 cats that we have rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed whilst here at the cattery.

Clearly Defra believe that a piece of paper has more value than all our knowledge and experience.

Both Keren & Trevor come from professional backgrounds with great experience and formal training in the corporate worlds as well as retail experience. It is this that we brought to Fordham Boarding Cattery and we believe makes the difference to the service and support we give to our clients.

One of our staff members does have the required qualifications but sadly she does wish to work 24/7/365 our "standard working days".

Keren & Trevor could not have achieved a relevant qualification in the time period given between the issue of the new requirements their introduction making it impossible for us to meet this requirement.

Keren & Trevor could study and pass a cat grooming or similar qualification but frankly we think our clients would prefer us to spend the time doing what we do best - looking after their cats and them.

Keren's Mum Phil is a valued member of the team - it would be a requirement for her to also be qualified and given an annual review and training development plan - at 70 something and with over 60 years' experience of looking after cats.... you can only imagine the conversion.

Higher Standard 2 not achieved

"Units must be 1.5 times the minimum sizes stated."

All our pens met or exceeded the existing size requirements prior to 1st October 2018, and without major reduction in the number of cats boarded - which is not economically viable or undertaking major structural changes - which is not reasonable or practical; it is impossible for us to meet this requirement.

The Higher standard for accommodation is purely arbitrary, why not 1.4 times or 1.6 times?

There is no scientific evidence provided to show that not having more space is detrimental or more space is beneficial to the cats and as such is invalid as a higher standard requirement.

It also fails to understand that we operate on a best practice basis that all our borders are given the largest space available.

All our single boarders would meet the higher standard as we only have two single units which meet the higher standard and therefore all other single borders are given double or quad pens which meet the higher standard for a single cat.

All double boarders are given quad pens when available and as we only have a very small number of clients who board 4 cats together this is more often the case.

We believe that our best practice approach is what Defra should be working with as this can easily be included in Policies and Procedures.

The real-world situation here is that for 95% of boarders we would meet the higher requirements.

Higher Standard 3 not achieved

"There must be completely opaque sneeze barriers rather than translucent up to 600mm and behind any shelves."

The Higher standard for Opaque screens is again not defined correctly and is invalid as a higher standard requirement.

Opaque means "not transparent or translucent".

The guidance by Defra suggest that "full height full width translucent sneeze barriers" which should "be at a minimum translucent (allowing light to pass through, but only diffusely so that objects on the other side cannot be clearly distinguished) to reduce stress caused by cats seeing one another"?? - Which is it Defra - Opaque or Translucent?

Assuming they mean translucent (they will no doubt correct this at the next review... oh yes there is not one scheduled), there is no specification given as to the amount of light permitted or not permitted. An ECDC inspector has not been given means or equipment to test this properly either and therefore cannot properly make this assessment so have been told to use their judgement - hmmn how does that fit with a national standard?

This is not a reasonable or practical requirement on a cost basis alone, but it would have been impossible for us to have implemented in the time frame given.

Seriously though this is the one area that we will not change in our Cattery to just to get more stars.

A major part of the new legislation is there to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of the cats - a good thing and has always been our highest priority here.

To comply with this requirement would darken the pens which is detrimental to the cats wellbeing (Section 5.2 (e) of the Defra regulation) as well as other issues as below, and undesirable from all the clients we have canvassed.

Having opaque screens precludes any interaction between cats which is contrary to Sections 7.0, 7.1 and 7.2 of the Defra regulations as cats in general are social creatures.

Many cats whilst boarding like to interact and play with the other neighouring cats through the clear perspex, this would be impossible with opaque panels.

When a new cat comes to the Cattery for the first stay we always try and place them to cats that have been before so that the new boarder can see that the other cats are happy and relaxed and also to watch and learn the new routine.

Where a cat is not sociable simple and effective best practice measures such as temporary screens are put in place. Again these best practice measures can easily be included in Policy and Procedures.

It is part and parcel of what we do to know your cat and the specific requirements of each and every cat - this is not something you can get a qualification in or document in a procedure.

We belive that this is an ill-conceived part of the legislation, poorly implemented and fundementally not in the best interest of the majority of cats and should be removed.


If you have read thus far - well done you!

It is more than frustrating that a faceless government body who clearly do not understand that running a Cattery is a life style business and not a corporate "maximise profits at every turn" business has created this mess which they are now trying to distance themselves from.

Corporate processes of policies and procedures and ISO type documentation are not appropriate for this kind and size of business.

It is clear to us that Defra have a flawed understanding of what we do, the realworld requirements of what the cats boarded require, and what our clients want and wish for.

Yes we do find it insulting and it makes us angry as we have worked extremely hard over the past 10 years to create our reputation that this rating system does not in any way fairly reflect.

There was nothing in the new regulations that we were not already doing and there is nothing that we have had to change either as a result.

We are fortunate that we have the knowledge, experience and skills to have been able to implement these new regulations but other Catteries have closed, or are planning to sell up as a direct result of these new regulations.

We would like to thank all our existing loyal clients who have unanimously supported us and our stance.


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