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Welwyn Hatfield District Branch Helps to Raise Profile of Unlicensed Kitten Market to Government

30 October 2016

As always, the branch is inundated with stray cats, unwanted cats, pregnant cats, kittens, more kittens….it is never ending. There are so many cats out there, in our and many other charities, that need loving homes, yet there are those who breed their cats, over and over, to make money.

The Government is currently reviewing various laws that licence activities involving animals. This includes reviewing the law on the sale of pets, and Cats Protection very much welcomes the review. The Pet Animals Act 1951 is now over 60 years old and it does not adequately reflect the modern reality that
thousands of kittens and cats are sold online by private sellers, often operating a business from a domestic residence and with poor welfare.

You may remember back in June that there was an article in the Welwyn Hatfield Times commenting that our branch had been notified of kittens being advertised as "free" from a private home in Hatfield. Unfortunately at least one of these kittens ended up with another local Charity and was very unwell. These kittens were advertised as eleven weeks old, but were believed to be barely six weeks. This article was picked up by the Advocacy team at the National Cat Centre, Cats Protection’s head office.

Please be aware of taking on kittens advertised as either free or for sale. You rarely know what you're getting, and unknowingly may be subjecting the mum cat to a miserable life having endless litters. Take a look at the guidance on the www.gov.uk website, Buying a Cat or Dog, which starts by saying ’Do not buy a cat or dog from unknown sources – It’s important that you know where it comes from and where it was born. Be particularly careful when buying dogs or cats advertised on the internet or through local media such as a newspaper.’

Following a visit to head office to meet the Advocacy team and other departments, we were asked to take part in a short film, which would be sent to MPs to lobby for a change in the law. So at the end ofAugust our  Co-ordinator, Carolyne and one of our fosterers and Committee member, Kellie met with a film director in Welwyn Garden City to record their views. They described why they felt there was an unnecessary market for kittens, their experience of the problems from the Cats Protection volunteers’ perspective and what they thought could be done to help.

The public will soon have the opportunity to make a real change for kittens.The government is reviewing regulations on kitten sales now. We want to make sure those who breed and sell commercially are licensed and to stop the sale of sick and underage kittens.

Cats Protection agrees with the Government, which states in the review proposals that “all domestic commercial pet sales must be licensed”. If you, as a supporter of Cats Protection and a responsible cat owner, are asked to lobby your MP, we hope you do. 

Monitoring of the online kitten market shows significant evidence of commercial activity with repeat advertisements from the same sellers and repeat breeding for sale from the family pet. Our supporters have long been concerned about the welfare of kittens sold in poor condition, perhaps sold under eightweeks of age and/or suffering from disease or illness.

We have seen many adverts on social media, but there are so many pages we can’t keep up with them. If you could help us — should you see any adverts with kittens for sale or free, please report them to us at info@welwynhatfield.cats.org.uk so we can attempt to encourage the owners to neuter - at our cost -
the cat. 

Thanks in advance for your support.