Cats in Russia can breathe a collective sigh of relief: the country's Ministry of Construction said all apartment blocks will be required to leave space in the basement open for felines to come and go whenever they feel like.
"During public discussions, we have decided to adjust the norm on prohibiting access to the basement [of apartment blocks], which has been in place for many years, and to preserve the possibility of using them for the animals," Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities, Andrey Chibis, said on Monday.
The 15cm-wide passages will enable felines to leave and safely enter the basement any time they like, without risking life and limb.
Chibis said that "by the decision of residents of the flats," passages leading to the basement can be closed with a special barrier grid.
Animal rights activists have long urged authorities to stop bricking up ventilation holes through which cats can freely leave and enter the basement. Activists said that in the past, , cats often ended up dying after being immured in the basement, or were simply unable to get into the shelter during the cold season.