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7th December 2023

The UK’s leading cat welfare charity has welcomed new Private Members Bills on kitten smuggling and cat theft, saying it will help protect cats and kittens from unscrupulous individuals looking to profit at their expense.

Cats Protection says an estimated 50,000 cats that were acquired by people in the UK last year came from an overseas source.

The charity says it’s unclear whether any health and welfare checks were done on all these cats or what conditions they were subjected to during travel, meaning some may have arrived in the UK in an extremely poor state of health or carrying infectious illness that they could pass to other cats. Many felines also become very stressed during long journeys leading to related illnesses such as cystitis.

Annabel Berdy, Cats Protection’s Senior Advocacy and Government Relations Officer said: “We are delighted to see that the important issue of cat smuggling has been brought forward in a Private Members Bill today.

“Cats Protection has long campaigned for action on this important issue and so have our supporters who sent over 30,000 emails to parliamentarians and policy makers urging them to take action to prevent the smuggling of cats.

The charity has also welcomed a second Private Members Bill which seeks to combat the growing problem of pet theft by creating a specific offence of ‘cat abduction.’  

Annabel said: “A specific offence of cat abduction is desperately needed as cat theft is a real and growing problem in the UK. A report by Pet Theft Awareness found that in 2021 police-recorded cat theft increased by 40% on the previous year and has more than quadrupled since 2015.

“There are a number of reasons for this including the buoyant market in cats and kittens and a staggering rise in demand for high-value purebred or pedigree cats.

“If we look at cats obtained in the last year, 42% of them were pedigree or purebred cats compared to just 17% of those obtained more than five years ago”

“92 per cent of cat owners regard their cat as a family member so to have a cat stolen creates so much upset and anguish for families all over the UK.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading cat welfare charity and has helped an average of 157,000 cats and kittens a year over the last five years through its national network of 210 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres. 

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