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Monday, March 21, 2022

A family had to make the heart-breaking decision to rehome their cat just before the COVID-19 pandemic

Cats Protection is urging the Scottish Government to do more to ensure people who rent their own homes can benefit from owning a pet cat.

The widespread use of blanket ‘no pets’ policies is unfair and outdated, and an overhaul of how pets are viewed in the rented sector is urgently needed.

black cat sitting on back of grey sofa

Mum-of-two Stephanie Wood from Glasgow is backing our campaign after she was forced to give up the family’s much-loved cat Whoopie when she struggled to find a new pet-friendly home.

The heart-breaking decision, just before the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, came at a particularly stressful time for Stephanie, who works as a clinical healthcare assistant in two NHS hospitals. 

It meant her daughters – then aged six and one – faced lockdown without their beloved cat and denied Stephanie the comforting and calming presence of a pet.

“Our landlord decided to sell the property we were renting, and I found myself in the position of having four weeks to find a new home,” said Stephanie. “I was aware the lockdown was on the horizon, so it felt like a real panic to find somewhere. When I did find a suitable home, the landlord said she’d only consider a pet once we’d been there for six months.

black cat wearing pink collar sitting on grey carpetblack cat wearing pink collar sitting on grey carpet

“It seemed like an impossible situation and we had no choice but to give Whoopie up to Cats Protection. It was heart-breaking – me and the girls are still very upset about it. Whoopie was part of our family, she was fun, affectionate and a big part of our lives. She used to sleep snuggled up to my eldest daughter and she had a really calming effect on us all.

“Working for the NHS during the pandemic was incredibly difficult at times, and I often thought how lovely it would have been to come home to Whoopie, but sadly that was not possible. It just feels incredibly unfair that families like mine are denied such a simple pleasure of owning a pet cat.”

Cats Protection’s Advocacy & Government Relations Officer for Scotland, Alice Palombo said: “The pandemic has really highlighted just how important pets are in our lives – whether it’s providing companionship to people living alone, comfort for those with ongoing health conditions or simply a fun and much-loved part of family life.

“Yet as the law stands, it can be impossible for people who rent their home to own a cat. It cannot be right that pet ownership is largely reserved for those people who own their own home.”

Research from our CATS Scotland 2021 report shows just how important cats are to people who are able to own them – with 94% of owners in Scotland saying their cat is part of the family and 91% saying their cats bring them joy.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on proposals to allow tenants to keep pets in rented housing, and Cats Protection is asking its supporters to back the proposals.

“This consultation is a big step in the right direction and we’re urging the Scottish Government to continue this momentum,” added Alice. “Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and it’s only right that everyone should have the chance to own a cat if they wish.”

You can support cat-owning tenants by using our simple online form – it takes only a couple of minutes to complete.

Find out more about our UK-wide Purrfect Landlords campaign calling for more pet-friendly tenancies.

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