UK legislation and the Bengal breed

Bengal cats technically fall within the ambit of The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This is a piece of legislation that “regulates the keeping of certain kinds of dangerous animals as pets”. In theory (but perhaps not in practice) people who “own” (I dislike this word in relation to living with a cat) this cat require a licence.

The animals that require licences are on the schedule to the act (a schedule is a section of the act referred to within the act a bit like a link on a website). As it is a hybrid it is not specifically listed on the schedule to the act but falls within the “catch-all” provisions (i.e. those species not listed but still fall within the ambit of the act).

This hybrid is subject to the provisions of the act because the act preceded the development of the this breed. These lovely cats are rather special and unusual being a hybrid of a wild animal and a domestic animal something not envisaged by those who drafted the act. Under the act they are not domestic cats.

I am sure that this is surprising to anyone who reads this. I am equally sure that a lot of people who have this cat are unaware of this. And I wonder if breeders of this breed of cats inform buyers that The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 needs to be complied with when one is bought.

What is to be done? DEFRA (Department for Food Environment and Rural Affairs) are reviewing the act through consultation with the intention of amending the act to exclude the bengal.

Local authorities are charged with enforcing the act and they obviously exercise discretion and don’t enforce licensing on owners.

If in doubt talk to your local authority.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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