The UK’s largest cat charity has launched a campaign to help stamp out the sale of sick and underage kittens by unscrupulous dealers.
Cats Protection is calling for a change in the law to protect young kittens and has mounted the “True cost of kittens” campaign, which aims to alert the public to the growing commercial market that results in kittens being bred in poor welfare conditions, with many being sold desperately unwell, leaving new owners with hefty vet bills.
With kittens being sold from £50 to several hundred pounds, and often at too young an age to be separated from their mother, the charity is calling for urgent action to update the law on pet sales and clamp down on anyone putting money before basic welfare.
Cats Protection’s advocacy manager Jacqui Cuff said the charity was asking supporters to back its campaign, which is calling on the Government to ensure regulations on the licensing of animal establishments protect the welfare of cats and kittens bred for sale.
She said: “While there have always been individuals prepared to cash-in on the appeal of a young kitten, it is the growth of the internet and social media over recent years that has made access to kittens quicker and easier than ever before.
“The consequences of this kitten market can be distressing. All too often, unsuspecting purchasers buy kittens that are sick and, in many cases, younger than eight weeks old – the age at which they’re ready to leave their mother. Having been separated from their mother too soon, they lack the essential nutrients to develop properly, can be prone to disease and illness and are often poorly socialised.
“The end result can be emotionally and financially draining, with significant suffering for the kitten and hefty vet bills for the owner. In some cases, the kitten may not survive.”