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Where do we stand on common issues affecting cats in the UK? We have set out our position on everything from air guns to dog attacks

There are many different challenges facing cats today. Part of our work at Cats Protection is to identify ways of achieving the best future for cats in a changing and potentially threatening world.

Petitions

Nowadays there is a large number of petitions circulating on the internet. The Advocacy team is increasingly being asked if Cats Protection can support various external petitions, for example by promoting them on Facebook or Twitter to our supporters.

Our position is that generally, Cats Protection does not support petitions unless we are the originator or involved in some way. This does not preclude supporters or branch members supporting external petitions, ideally as individuals rather than as Cats Protection.

The reasons Cats Protection generally only promotes its own petitions, or petitions we are involved in as part of a collaborative campaign, are:

  • to ensure maximum and targeted campaigning impact for the charity 

  • to avoid public confusion about Cats Protection’s campaign priorities 

  • to ensure that as an organisation we only support and promote campaigns that support our strategic objectives 

  • to retain control and avoid risks to reputation (often we do not know anything about the originator of external campaigns and this exposes us to reputational risk)

Cat Cafes

Cats Protection opposes cat cafés because of the risks of stress, disease transmission and poor welfare for cats. 

As the UK’s largest cat charity, we are concerned about the welfare implications of having a number of cats in a limited space with groups of people unknown to them coming and going throughout the day. We believe this kind of environment is not suitable for domestic cats because they have evolved as solitary animals and generally do not choose to live in social groups – unlike dogs which are a social species.

It is very likely that some or all of the cats involved will become stressed as a result of being in a confined space with a continually changing group of people. This is because domestic cats have shared ancestry with the African wildcat so we still see a lot of these behaviours in our pet cats today. This is not an ‘outdated’ view – in fact, recent research* into cat behaviour counters the opinion that cats living in groups do not suffer social stress.

Furthermore, if the intention is to home cats from the café, this would create a 'rolling' population of rescue cats – in a café, this would create even more stress and further compromise feline welfare because rescue cats need as stable an environment as possible to reduce the possibility of stress-related and infectious diseases such as cat flu, and other issues such as over-grooming and urine spraying.

Although Cats Protection does not have powers to prevent cafés like this from being set up, we believe that people who care about the wellbeing of cats would not want them to be exploited as a gimmick to sell coffee and would therefore not wish to encourage the launch of these establishments. Given our views, we are unable to accept proceeds or donations from cat cafés in any way.

*Research looking at the prevalence of behaviour problems in the general cat population showed that aggressive behaviour between cats and fear of other cats accounted for a high percentage of cats surveyed. Ref: Bradshaw, J.W.S Casey, R.A & MacDonald J.M (2000) The occurrence of unwanted behaviour in the pet cat population, Proceedings of the Companion Animal Behaviour Therapy Study Group Day, Birmingham, UK, pp 41-42

Air gun attacks

Cats Protection is calling for the licensing of air guns in England and Wales so that licensing is in place across the UK (licensing already exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Antifreeze poisoning

Cats Protection supports the clear labelling of antifreeze to warn consumers of the dangers to pets, including cats, and is calling for companies to develop and produce affordable and widely available non-toxic antifreeze products.

Dangerous dogs

Cats Protection is calling for a specific offence within legislation relating to dangerous dogs to allow prosecution of dog owners whose dogs attack, injure or kill cats.

The vast majority of dog owners are responsible owners and keep their dog(s) under control. However, where an owner does fail to control their dog and the dog injures or kills a cat the law needs strengthening because an attack on a cat can denote a dangerous dog.

Advertising cats on the internet

Cats Protection encourages anyone who advertises a cat or kitten for sale (or free to a good home) on a website or in a newspaper to do so responsibly and ensure the cat or kitten goes to a suitable home. The charity encourages anyone seeking a cat to consider adopting one from a rehoming organisation.

We don’t have any legal powers to compel websites or newspapers not to advertise cats or kittens, but we are part of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), a group made up of animal welfare organisations, media publishing companies and the Metropolitan Police, which promotes responsible pet advertising. PAAG is aware that pet advertising is an issue for many publications and websites and they assist them to promote best practice, provide uniformity and transparency and ultimately, improve the welfare of the animals being bred, bought and sold via newspapers and websites. The advice on buying cats and kittens is viewable at www.paag.org.uk/how-to-buy-a-pet/cats  

We’ve teamed up with cat and vet organisations to create a Kitten Checklist, designed to help potential owners to ensure they choose a happy and healthy kitten. Advice on what to look for when buying a kitten, as well as a downloadable version of The Kitten Checklist can be found below.

Regarding Cats Protection’s use of the internet, we know it is a useful tool to highlight the cats in care which need new homes although we would never use the internet alone to rehome a cat. We carry out certain procedures, including a home visit if necessary, to ensure that each cat goes to a suitable home. We also have an ‘adopt with confidence’ pledge, which means prospective owners can be confident that any cat adopted from us has benefited from the very highest standards of care and attention. Each Cats Protection cat will have been examined by a veterinary surgeon, microchipped, vaccinated, neutered if old enough and will also come with four weeks’ free insurance. We provide these benefits so people don’t have to worry about them following adoption, which is a big plus for money-conscious owners.   

Find out more about buying a kitten

Snares

Cats Protection is calling for an outright ban of snares across the UK on the basis that they are cruel and inhumane to cats and other domestic and wild species.

Cats and Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs)

Cats Protection is calling for the highways agencies in Wales and Northern Ireland and local authorities across the UK to collect, scan and notify owners about cat road victims (highways agencies in England and Scotland already do so). The charity would hope that should a driver accidentally injure a cat they would take the cat to a vet for emergency treatment where it can also be scanned for a microchip.

Cats Protection is also calling for compulsory microchipping of owned cats in the UK as it is a safe and permanent method of identification and maximises the chance of reunification should a cat go missing.

Sentience

Cats Protection recognises animals, including cats, as sentient beings. Any definition of sentience should include all vertebrates. It should include invertebrates with highly developed nervous systems such as cephalopods (squid/octopus) and Malacostraca (crabs/lobsters/shrimps).

Fireworks

Cats Protection supports the principle of restricting unplanned use of fireworks to allow owners to anticipate displays and take appropriate actions to keep their cats safe. We also support the idea of reducing the loudness of fireworks to reduce the stress to cats and other animals.

Specific information about keeping your cat safe on Bonfire Night can be found in our Help & Advice section

Find out more about cats and fireworks on Bonfire Night
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