House of Lords debate cats and dogs

The House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament which checks draft legislation from the politicians who run the country and debates new legislation themselves, are currently involved in debating new laws to deal with the oversupply of cats and dogs in Britain. Like many other countries, there are more cats and dogs than homes for them. Although, I confess to never seeing the effects of this.

The debate was instigated by Lord Black and he says:

“The biggest issue that we have, and all the charities face, is that supply outstrips demand. There are far more strays than there are families to take them,”

He recognises the importance of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the work done by charities such as Cats Protection and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home but sees a need to tackle some left over business.

He is referring mainly to unregulated and unethical breeding of kittens and puppies that are sold in pet shops and the uncontrolled trade in cats and dogs. There was a pet shop where I used to live and one of their cats was bought by an old lady I knew. The cat was not particularly healthy (see Cardie).

Lord Black says that the Animal Welfare Act 2006, excellent though it is, does not cover enough cover enough ground such as the regulation and licensing of catteries and kennels.

What is behind this debate is to try and tackle some of these loose ends that were never tackled or inadequately tackled and also to deal with modern ways of adopting cats and dogs, namely via the internet on social media websites. There is also the ever present problem of ensuring that cat caretakers neuter and spay their cats and act responsibly.

Conclusions? There appears to be a need to upgrade and extend legislation with respect to cats and dogs particularly in the area of breeding to ensure that there is no oversupply and needless euthanasia.

One of the commentators on Facebook, Pippa Mealings, makes a good point. I think she’s is an Australian living in Australia, where they have more extensive and restrictive legislation on cats and dogs.. She states that

“Australia is a cat hating society everything is ok with dogs but not cats.”

That is interesting because Lord Black says something similar:

“a lot more legislation and regulation that covers the welfare of dogs than there is of cats”.

This is a point that Ruth aka Kattaddorra consistently makes, that there needs to be a greater focus on cat welfare. There does still seem to be a bias in favour of dogs and that applies to America as well.

Cat and dog laws should not be too strict or restrictive. There is a need for regulation on cat breeding and possibly caretaking (neutering micrchipping) but as the Australian lady says you should not overdo it.

If its like Australia its actually very retrogressive – can’t feed strays, no outdoor cats, microchip AND collar ID and people reporting neighbors if their cat pokes its nose over the boundary fence, trapping of cats by the public e.g. if your cat goes next door they can legally do that. It’s not made any difference to cruelty or neglect or abandonment issues all its done is make things harder for responsible owners…

I don’t see a problem of over-legislation and heavy controls in the UK. Lord Black’s concerns are genuinely about cat welfare  – he is a genuine cat lover – dealing with oversupply mainly through back street breeding and irresponsible ownership.

Source: FB and centrallobby.politicshome.com

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House of Lords debate cats and dogs — 27 Comments

      • You didn’t see me slip The Green Cat Book by Sarah Hartwell into my rucksack, did you ;).

        Just got back home about 5 mins ago.

        Thank you Sarah for inviting me to your home to meet you and your cats and to see your archive. I very much enjoyed meeting you and talking about….cats and websites, what else?

    • This is good news – lets hope the UK can remain, or become an example to the world in this arena. I think it can. There will always be nasty people but it’s good to make their lives more difficult!

  1. It’s so refreshing for me to read that there are political people recognizing there is a problem with an oversupply of cats and dogs before it becomes a crisis; and working toward solutions that don’t involve euthanasia.

    I really don’t understand the Australians. Why do they hate cats? What could any cat have done to deserve a whole nation’s hatred?

    • I completely agree that it is damn nice to see the House of Lords (a bunch of geriatric gents and ladies that are unelected but wise) debating cat welfare off their volition. No one forced them. Lord Black is simply concerned about cats and dogs. It is a priority for him. I like to see legislators prioritizing cats.

      The Aussie’s dislike cats (some like cats) because they believe they kill native wildlife and there are lots of feral cats. The point they miss is that people introduced domestic cats to Australia and people let them breed and become feral. Now they blame cats and kill them. Bizarre.

    • I must admit that I am somewhat offended to see that everyone believes Australia is a country full of cat haters. I’m well and truly Australian, and I absolutely love cats. The majority of Australians do not hate cats, cats are an extremely popular pet here. But with the laws and regulations being introduced, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have one as a pet. A lot of people are choosing not to have cats, because the laws are just too strict. If anyone here has ever read Redemption, by Nathan J. Winograd, you’ll know that these laws are always counter productive.

      Back to Australians hating cats – Michael was pretty spot on in that a lot of people believe cats kill native wildlife. While forgetting that humans clear bushland to run livestock, humans carve roads, build cities, heat up the planet. Human settlement in Australia has driven more native animals into extinction than anything else. Cats are certainly not to blame. However, many Australians can be quite stubborn, and it’s a lot easier to blame the cats, than to take responsibility for our own actions.

      I’ve worked with wildlife, and with cats. Yes, cats do hunt wildlife, although they cannot determine what is and isn’t native, and they can’t determine what humans have classed as endangered! I do not believe that cats hunt wildlife to the extreme extent that people say. And I believe that if Trap Neuter Return programs were put in place, and cat care givers were responsible for feeding these cats, cat populations and predation on wildlife would be significantly decreased. (You only have to see the positive affect this has had in the US to know that it works!) Studies have in fact shown that cats and wildlife can co-exist sustainably in most situations.

      I live in beautiful bushland, which is abundant with wildlife, yet nothing makes me happier than to see the neighbour’s fluffy black cat strolling around my paddocks. Despite the presence of cats, we have more wildlife than we know what to do with.

      I hope people understand that cat haters are not as abundant in Australia as you might think. It is simply those who are too ignorant to think for themselves, and those who are seeking something to blame, who hate cats. The cat situation is dire in Australia at the moment and things need to change. Cats are here to stay, so instead of trying to kill them off in the wild, and make them impossible to own in homes, we need to be making it easy for people to desex their cats, and we need to introduce TNR programs across the country. Next year I am beginning what will be a long journey towards become a vet. The only reason I want to become a vet is to help cats, and promote No Kill cat shelters, and TNR in Australia. I’m no cat hater!

      • A wonderful and informative comment Maggie!
        It’s the same old story really, countries get typecast because of some of the people who live there and that’s a shame.
        Cats the world over get blamed for decimating birds and wild life by cat haters using biased statistics, it’s much easier for them than looking to their own conscience as part of the human race who are the true culprits.
        Cat lovers worldwide need to UNITE and fight against these cat haters.
        Cats have as much right as any other species to live on this planet!
        Good luck Maggie with your veterinary studies, knowing your determination and how hard you work, I know you will succeed!

      • Thanks Maggie a lot for taking the time to add very useful information. Firstly we know you are a cat lover and animal lover and passionate about it. You’re also a vegetarian or vegan as far as I remember. I admire you a lot for that. You know I do.

        Secondly, it has always been clear in my mind that a lot of “ordinary” Aussie’s like cats and have cat companions. However, it seems to me that the legislators, the governments, local and national, have a problem with cats or cat ownership and a thing about native wildlife.

        Native wildlife is very important to the government and non-native species are generally disliked particularly if they eat native species.

        It is that which comes across to foreignors and which leads people to form the view that Australians dislike cats because their elected officials legislate against them. The people accept the legislation.

        Perhaps that clarifies my position.

        I hope you are keeping well. I’d like to know how you are. You were quite young when you first wrote an article for PoC.

        http://pictures-of-cats.org/nile-chilli-pepper-an-aby-from-aus.html

        Was that your first article? The date on the post is wrong. It is the date the site was transferred to a different host server.

        • Yes that’s correct, a lot of people accept legislation against cats, thinking that it will enforce responsible cat ownership, and it will be great for cats and people alike. This has never been the case for any legislation, and it never will be. In fact, last year it became illegal in Tasmania to breed cats unless you were a registered breeder. Yet kitten season never actually ended this year, the number of kittens was unbelievable. Because forcing people to do something never works. A lot of the cats who are producing the kittens are actually in great homes – the owners just don’t realise the importance behind desexing. So instead of enforcing these legislations, education needs to be paramount, and desexing needs to be free, or at least very cheap.

          They’re also going to make it illegal for a cat to leave its owner’s property. Tell me, how is that legislation going to change anything? Other than increase the number of cats in shelters.

          Yes that was my first article, judging by Chilli’s age in the photo, I’d guess that I wrote it in early 2010. I’m doing well, time hasn’t allowed me to contribute to PoC. I’ve been studying. And I haven’t wanted to write about cats since my kittens were killed earlier this year. One of them is my avatar – my sweet little Tanuki. I was going to send you an article about what happened to them, but I find I’m still too upset to write about them. It’s a horrible story. I also almost lost Chilli earlier this year, he is no longer an inside cat, and we believe he ate poisoned grass and he very nearly died. It’s a miracle that he’s still alive. I had to move, so he’s being looked after by my mum for now.

          I hope you’ve been well, and not too busy with the site!

          • Thanks for adding that information, Maggie.

            ..education needs to be paramount, and desexing needs to be free, or at least very cheap..

            This point is very important. Education counts for so much in cat caretaking. It really does come down to education, both general and specifically about cats and caring for them.

            I am shocked to read about your troubles with your cats being killed or injured. That sounds really traumatic. It is something that one does not really get over. I’ll alter your ideas about cat ownership, I suspect.

            I hope you get over it alright, though. It’ll fade a bit in time.

            Stick around as you have a lot to offer the cat world in the way education.

  2. Yes if back street breeding was stopped and all cat caretakers held responsible for the neutering and micro chipping of their cats it would be much better for cats. We are so lucky to have Cats Protection here, but there are far too many cats needing help and too few people who care enough to realise the good work CP do and to help them.
    I can’t understand why some people think dogs and their welfare are more important than cats and their welfare and I think too many people still believe that cats can fend for themselves so just abandon them if they don’t want them around any more.
    Much more education is needed about cats and more laws are needed to protect them too, good on Lord Black for caring enough about cats to try to do something to help them.

    • I wonder if he has cats.

      In my personal opinion I think anybody working in shelters or in any way involving companion animals that they should have adopted those animals concerned themselves. I trust a person who lives with cats to handle cats more than a person who has no relationship with them outside of the job in question.

    • I think a lot of people still have the mentality of Medieval times when dogs were considered “useful” and were working animals. That mentality lingers and it leads to bias. Just a thought.

  3. I was just going through the article and just thought I would add the feline scenario in India. The whole of northern part of India and the southern part have extreme views about the cat. For the northerners, cats are not meant to be domesticated. They are wild and not to be approached or rescued. Infact the veterinary clinics here have one or two cat per week. Similarly not many NGOs reduce cats. You won’t see a cat roaming on the streets of new Delhi city and if u do, the cat will be traumatized that it’s been seen by someone..
    While in south, cities like Mumbai, Bangalore hate majority of cat lovers, NGOs, NGOs specially for cat resuce and rehabilitation, better treatment facilties and experienced vets.
    I wonder why there is such a huge difference in both the parts of the nations.

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