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Response to EFRA publication of report 'Animal welfare in England: domestic pets'

16 November 2016
Statement from Cats Protection

It is encouraging to read that the Committee of MPs recognises that cats and kittens need greater legal protection, particularly where breeding and sales takes place. Cats Protection especially welcomes the recommendation that breeders of cats of two litters or more should require a licence with welfare conditions attached¹.  Although many cat breeders are responsible, many aren’t and a licence system would help improve standards across the board.

However, we want Defra to go even further than Efra. As part of our public campaign, ‘The True Cost of Kittens’ launched last month, Cats Protection and its supporters want to see:

  1. A definition of commercial cat and kitten sales (we agree with a definition of two litters or more, in line with EFRA’s recommendation)
  2. An end to the sale of kittens under eight weeks old.
  3. Closure of legal loopholes that currently allow repeat breeding for sale from the family cat. There should be no exemptions as all cats sold commercially need the same protection.

Cats Protection presented evidence to the Committee explaining how the lack of appropriate regulation has allowed unscrupulous individuals to breed and sell kittens that are suffering from sickness and are often sold under eight weeks of age when they are too young to leave the mother cat.

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Advocacy Manager, said: “Purchasers have told us of horror stories of buying kittens with skin and eye infections, cat flu, heavy flea burdens with associated skin disease and worm infestations. Some conditions can have life-threatening implications on a young kitten – such as advanced flea related anaemia and severe dehydration due to diarrhoea. We believe that introducing a licence where two or more litters are bred and sold a year would bring cat breeding out of the shadows, give greater transparency and introduce safeguards through licence conditions and inspections.

Whilst one litter can be an accident, if a person allows their cat or cats to have two litters and is selling the kittens, a licence should be required. The problem is that cat breeding is not regulated in the UK – as the Committee said: “there is no legislation regulating the breeding of cats equivalent to the legislation in respect of dogs.”

We hope that the Government will now take these recommendations forward. Defra has an immediate opportunity to act by incorporating these recommendations within forthcoming new Regulations on the licencing of Animal Welfare Establishments.”

- Ends -

For further information or an interview, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on 01825 741 911, at media.office@cats.org.uk, or @CPMediaTeam on Twitter.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Recommendations 24 & 25 (P37)

  2. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps over 200,000 cats each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 32 centres.

  3. Cats Protection’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.

  4. Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SC037711 (Scotland). Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity in all published material.

  5. For more information about The True Cost of Kittens Campaign, click here

  6. For our responses to Defra and Efra, click here