Cats: Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 28th February 2022.

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Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take legislative steps to provide the equivalent levels of protection for cats following the publication of the provisions in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill relating to dogs.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021. The Bill includes new restrictions on pet movements into Great Britain, which covers the non-commercial movements of cats as well as dogs and ferrets. The Bill also contains powers to restrict the import of cats, dogs and ferrets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

In August 2021, the Government launched an 8-week consultation on our proposed restrictions to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain. The consultation proposed to maintain the existing requirements for cats. This is because there is currently limited evidence that there is a significant illegal trade in cats or significant numbers of low welfare movements. Overall, the number of movements of cats into Great Britain is much lower than for dogs.

The consultation sought views on whether maintaining the existing requirements in relation to cats was the right approach. We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary in due course. This will allow us to take on board the views of the public and interested groups in order to shape our future policy.

The Bill also includes a new offence of taking and detaining a dog as part of our response to a recommendation made by the Pet Theft Taskforce. The new offence, which was added to the Bill at its Commons Committee stage, is initially limited to the abduction of dogs in recognition of the Taskforce’s finding that seven out of 10 pet abductions in England and Wales involved dogs. However, the Bill also includes a power to extend the offence to other pets, including cats, if necessary.

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