I am shocked to learn that in many areas of the Netherlands hunting of stray cats is permitted. As “stray cats” are often simply domestic cats wandering around outside their home, this pastime, fully authorised by government, results in domestic cats being shot dead in their thousands.
It is certain that lots of “owned” cats are bound to be hunted. It is impossible to distinguish between a stray cat and a domestic cat. Stray cats are often domestic cats in the process of becoming feral.
The places in the Netherlands where hunting of cats is allowed are:
- Flevoland (update: believe now to have banned hunting of stray cats – Nov 2013)
- Southern Limburg
This is probably a complete list.
An estimated 8,000 to 13,000 cats are shot annually. It appears to be accepted by the citizens of these provinces and has been for years. What is going on? A country, especially a Northern European country, cannot condone and legalise the casual shooting of someone’s domestic cat. It is bound to lead to cat cruelty, pain, suffering and in England it would be crime punishable by a maximum 51 week jail term and/or £20,000 fine on conviction.
Even if a shot cat is genuinely feral and has no owner it is still animal cruelty because the only guaranteed way to kill a cat without pain is by a vet using approved drugs to euthanise the cat. Currently, the best way to deal with feral cats is TNR, a solution does not require brutal shooting.
My conclusion is that the Dutch government authorises animal cruelty. The desire amongst Dutch cat lovers is that the national government bans the hunting of stray cats. At present, each province of the Netherlands make their own law on this. Recently one of the provinces, Flevoland, banned it. On the other hand, the local government of Utrecht think it is perfectly acceptable, which surprises me.
The underlying reason why some provincial governments of the Netherlands allow people to shoot cats that happen to be out the home is because of the age old problem: too many cats without owners wandering around causing what some people consider to be a “feral cat problem”.
Clearly some local politicians find it acceptable to keep stray cat numbers down by allowing citizens to shoot them. This is neither humane nor decent behavior.
You can bet that no one in government has done anything about promoting better cat caretaking as a long term solution in conjunction with encouraging trap-neuter-return programmes. A decision to allow cat hunting is short-sighted and reactionary. Decent people are demanding long-term, humane and proactive steps instead. There are two petitions. This is one of them.
Looking at wider issues, there is no doubt that there is a need to unify animal welfare law across the European Union. At one time, in 2008, EU officials had firm plans to specify the size, shape and texture of fruit and vegetables across the EU. These officials were more concerned with the shape of a cucumber than whether the animal welfare laws were up to scratch in new member states and matched the best animal welfare laws amongst long standing members.