Proposals to regulate breeding of cats for profit have been welcomed by welfare charity Cats Protection.

The Welfare of Cats Bill was introduced as a private member’s bill to the House of Lords last week by Lord Black of Brentwood and is supported by the charity.

According to the charity, there is no legislation in the UK specific to the breeding of cats for sale, and if passed by parliament, the bill would improve the welfare of breeding cats and their kittens.

Proposals include:

  • inspection and licensing of cat breeders
  • banning licensed breeders from allowing cats to have kittens before they are one-year-old
  • limiting the number of litters bred from a female cat to one a year, and no more than three in its lifetime
  • ensuring kittens are well-socialised and healthy before they are sold.

Lord Black said: “I am delighted to be introducing into parliament the first piece of legislation specifically designed to protect the welfare of cats.

“Cats play a central role in millions of households, providing love and affection to so many families. It is vital the law protecting their welfare is up-to-date, modern and effective – at the moment it isn’t.

“This bill is designed to ensure antiquated laws are modernised and that all cats – which give so freely of their love – receive the care and respect they deserve.”

Cats Protection’s advocacy manager Jacqui Cuff said the Welfare of Cats Bill was vital because the law governing the sale of pets is “outdated” as it was created in the 1950s.

She said: “New law is needed to protect cats from being bred and rebred for money as breeding machines. Repeated breeding is very draining and can be harmful for the mother cat. We know the health and welfare of cats and kittens can be put at risk when there is a commercial interest in breeding for sale.

“It is all too easy to carry on a cat breeding business behind closed doors, for example at a private residence. Where owners do breed their cats commercially, limits need to be put in place, for example on the frequency of litters and maximum number of litters any one cat can have in a lifetime.

“It is not unusual to see ordinary cats advertised for high prices. We’ve seen “gorgeous kittens” for £300 each and black and white kittens for £180. These high prices encourage cat owners to see cat breeding as a profitable business.

“Sellers often refer to the same mother cat having had multiple litters. Some cat breeders are operating on a massive scale – we have examples of literally hundreds of kitten adverts from the same vendor over just a few months.

“We hope regulation will deter those who, motivated by money, add yet more cats and kittens to an already saturated market. Breeding adds to the thousands of unwanted cats and kittens that are in the care of charities such as Cats Protection awaiting a loving home.”

In addition to backing the Welfare of Cats Bill, Cats Protection has launched a consultation on a manifesto for cats with regulating cat breeding as one of its suggested priorities for government. To join in, visit the charity’s website.

To view the full bill, visit Parliament’s website.

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