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MLAs support pledge to improve cat welfare

02 September 2014
It has been a topic of vast debate over recent weeks, and now MLAs are being encouraged by one of the UK’s most prominent charities to put their support behind their pledge to work in partnership to improve cat welfare.

Cats Protection today launched their “Speaking up for Cats” pledge at Stormont with Chris Lyttle MLA, who encouraged his colleagues to sign the pledge in support of keeping animal cruelty, the education of cat and animal care and the importance of early neutering at the forefront of local government debates to improve welfare across Northern Ireland.

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Advocacy Manager said; “We are inviting all Members of the Assembly and stakeholder organisations to sign our pledge today. For every cat we rehome there are hundreds more unwanted or abandoned cats that we just don’t have capacity to help. Though Cats Protection’s focus is rehoming, all too often we see the results of animal cruelty at all levels, whether it is stray or abandoned cats, injured animals or cats that have been mistreated and are brought to us.

“This reception gives us the opportunity to build partnerships and work together to educate youngsters about pets, promote responsible cat care and neutering and work towards solving cat welfare issues, as it is impossible to do it alone.”

Supporting the campaign Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA said: “The public should be in no doubt that causing unnecessary suffering, including deliberate acts of cruelty to any animal including cats, will not be tolerated. It is crucial that respect for animal welfare is maintained and this can only be achieved if the sentences available for serious animal welfare offences, within the Welfare of Animals Act 2011, are imposed when justified, and that perpetrators receive a punishment that fits the crime.”
In Northern Ireland, Cats Protection’s Belfast Adoption Centre rehomed 527 cats in 2013, and neutered 212. There is an extensive Volunteer Education Programme in Northern Ireland, with 145 talks delivered to an audience of around 4,350 school children and members of community groups. It is Cats Protection’s aim to engender an understanding of an animal’s needs and the responsibilities associated with being a pet owner from an early age – children being the pet owners of the future.

April 2014 will see the three year anniversary of the enforcement provisions of the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 and presents an ideal opportunity to review progress on animal welfare issues more generally, and raise awareness of various codes of practice including the cat code. For more information on the “Speaking up for Cats” pledge and for more about what Cats Protection does, visit www.cats.org.uk  

For further information, please contact Jane Wells or Jane Williams at JPR on 028 9076 0066 or mail@jprni.com  or jane.williams@jprni.com  

Notes to Editors:
1. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps 218,000 cats and kittens each year through a national network of 257 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres.
2. Cats Protection’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs. 3. 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.
4. More information about the work of Cats Protection can be found at www.cats.org.uk