True Cost of Kittens campaign - thank you!

 
  For those of you that recently signed one of our postcards, regarding the "True cost of
  Kittens" campaign, during Spring 2017, we promised to update you on the campaign to
  strengthen legal protection where kittens are bred and sold commercially. We campaigned
  for a new licensing scheme that would prohibit commercial sales of kittens under eight
  weeks of age; close legal loopholes that allow repeat commercial breeding without licence
  and clarify when there is a commercial business activity requiring a licence. Well, we have
  some good news - we did it!  Cats Protection are now working with Government on the
  detail of new regulations on licensing of animal activities, expected to become legislation
  in 2018.
 
How you helped
 
This major campaign sought widespread public support through a campaign video, 
webpage and online letter. Supporters could complete the letter online which was 
then dispatched directly to their MPs inbox.  Cats Protection also enlisted the 
support of everyone they could including their branch network of 9,800 
volunteers, existing supports, shops and adoption centres, those visiting CP show 
stands and events.  They also contacted over 4,000 vet practices who helped 
return campaign postcards and we put out regular messages on our Facebook and 
Twitter pages and many of the charities that we work alongside, such as Battersea
Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross and PDSA helped promote the campaign to.

Taking your campaign postcards up to London 
We know that not everyone has internet access so part of the campaign involved 
campaign postcards addressed directly to the Minister. Cats Protection sent 
campaign postcards out car and wide and again your response was amazing.  We 
had over 7,000 signed cards back and the Advocacy team delivered over 7,000 
replica cards by hand to the Minister at the Department for the Environment, Food 
and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in central London just before Christmas.  Personal 
details were removed from the cards to comply with Data Protection.
Richard Clare (Advocacy Officer) and Jacqui Cuff (Advocacy Manager) delivering over 7,000 campaign cards to Lord Gardiner the Minister with responsibilty for animal welfare at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London

Government's next steps
In February 2017 DEDA published a document The review of animal establishment licensing in England - Next Steps. We were delighted to see the proposal to introduce licence conditions that will prohibit commercial sales of kittens (and puppies) at too young an age, stated as less than eight weeks old.  Eight weeks is the minimum age at which the new law will allow the commercial sale of a kitten under licence. We know that many breeders, particularly those that breed pedigree cats (10% of cats are estimated to be pedigree) go beyond this and don't relinquish kittens until they are at least 13 weeks old and fully vaccinated.

Once these regulations are in place, anyone selling kittens as a business will need to apply for an animal activities licence which will bring with it safeguards for cat welfare through licence conditions. We know that many breeders that sell pedigree cats etc, particularly those registered with breed associations like GCCF, operate to high welfare standards.  We hope that the new regulations will ensure good welfare across the board, particularly for the majority of sales which are of non-pedigree cats and kittens.

Under the new regulations a person will need to be conducting business activity to require a licence. Local authorized will be assessing what constitutes a business of selling pets based on a range of factors and the criteria are currently under discussion. Repeated and organized selling is likely to be an indicator. We have also recommended to Government that local authorities take a risk based approach to inspections focusing on those with poor welfare and/or in breach of their licence conditions.

The new licensing scheme should provide greater scrutiny of the commercial market and we hope deter those who operate unlicensed with poor welfare. A lot will depend on how local authorities enforce the new licensing system. The good news is that local authority representatives are involved now in developing the new system.

Working with a major online classified site and using filters to identity repeat advertiser details Cats Protection has evidence of large scale commercial kitten sales appearing on online pet pages, below are some examples.

What happens next
Cats Protection is delighted to have been invited onto a DEFRA-let expert panel to help develop the new licence conditions for the new regulations. In addition to commenting on conditions governing pet sales our Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Maggie Roberts, has also been asked to provide expert advice to Government on licence conditions applying to commercial activities.

And finally; we’re really grateful for the support that we received and we hope long term that the new regulations will help promote good welfare and prevent kittens being sold sick and under-age. We will continue to work closely with the Government this year on the fine details of the new regulations and we’ll be sure to keep you all updated.

Thank you to each and every one of our branch supporters that filled in the online letter or completed and sent back the postcard… you have helped to make this happen!





For more information on the campaign and Cats Protections advocacy work visit:
www.cats.org.uk/truecostofkittens
www.cats.org.uk/speakingupforcats
Email: advocacy@cats.org.uk

To read about the Government's licensing proposals:
www.gov.uk/government/consultations/animal-welfare-reviewing-animal-establishments-licensing-in-england