Importation of Cats and Kittens
Importation of Cats and Kittens

Thank you for contacting me about the protection of cats and kittens from cross-border smuggling. I will always support motions to improve animal welfare. As a vegetarian of over 20 years and a long-standing campaigner on animal rights these issues are really personal to me.

I absolutely share your concerns and support a vision where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation and where we continue to drive up standards and practice.

Since the pandemic kittens are in even higher demand which has provided an incentive to illegally import them. I know some of the biggest profits have been made on very young animals and the numbers being imported legally continue to grow every year. Often, kittens are bred in horrendous conditions and face further cruelty such as long journeys and cramped environments as they are transported over borders. When they arrive, few questions are asked about where they come from and their parents’ treatment.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill is currently undergoing parliamentary scrutiny. It allows the Government to make regulations about the importation of dogs, cats and ferrets into Great Britain on animal welfare grounds, such as their young age, mutilations and those which are heavily pregnant.

The Government’s consultation on these matters relating to the importation of dogs – and the possibility of extending its proposals to cats and ferrets – closed on 16 October 2021 and it says it will publish its response in due course. It also states it is working with Cats Protection to understand the difference between reported figures and the charity’s survey results.

I support banning the importation of cats, as well as dogs and ferrets, under the age of six months. There is a much smaller market for animals around six months, which makes it less profitable for smugglers to pass off animals at four or five months.

I also believe there is no justification for the commercial importation of pregnant cats and dogs. This loophole is being used by unscrupulous illegal importers. I further support banning non-commercial importation of animals over 42 days pregnant.

It should be uncontroversial to ban the importation of cats and other animals with declawed paws, cropped ears and docked tails. These mutilations are undoubtedly cruel and allowing these imports not only fuels international animal abuse but can act as a smokescreen for those who illegally mutilate animals in the UK.

More widely, I support the appointment of an independent Animal Welfare Commissioner to ensure that government policy is continually informed by the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and best practice in animal welfare. The Commissioner would ensure that animal welfare standards are always considered as legislation is introduced and as Britain takes part in international bodies, trade deals and obligations. It is my aspiration to make the UK a world leader in high animal welfare standards, and ending these abusive markets and practices will go some way to achieving this goal.

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