Netherlands: People allowed to hunt domestic cats!

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:

  1. Noord-Brabant
  2. Friesland
  3. Flevoland (update: believe now to have banned hunting of stray cats – Nov 2013)
  4. Utrecht
  5. Zuid-Holland
  6. Southern Limburg
  7. Texel

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.

Facebook Discussion


Netherlands: People allowed to hunt domestic cats! — 22 Comments

  1. You do realise that over here it’s legal for gamekeepers and farmers to shoot stray cats on private land? Stray and feral cats are still classified as vermin that can be shot on private land, just the same as rabbits and pheasants can be shot. Some farmers call in rabbit/fox shooters to shoot “nuisance ferals”. The criteria is not to cause unnecessary suffering.

    Exchange hosts in rural Brittany told me it was acceptable for hunters to shoot stray cats there as well (and for landowners to poison straying cats).

    • Sarah, could you tell were the shooting of strays by farmers on private land is an exception to the Animal Welfare Act 2006? I can’t find it. Is the exception that the farmer can shoot strays on the basis that the cat is deemed “wild” and not domesticated?

      • Stray/feral cats are non-domestic. Ferals are considered “pest” animals, especially if the farmer breeds gamebirds. Ferals also fall under the remit of pest control firms. Several of my rabbit-shooting & fox-shooting contacts have been asked to shoot feral cats at the same time (supposedly avoiding shooting any cat that is wearing a collar, though I’ve heard of cases where these are shot anyway and the collar is conveniently “lost”).

        It’s the same with rabbits; pet rabbits are property, but wild rabbits are fair game.

        • Thanks Sarah. But are these farmers acting within the law? Or they just getting away with it. I ask because on private land it is easy to kill a cat with a gun with complete impunity. No chance of being caught. However, even if it was legal it seems to be a careless way to treat outdoor cats. How do you tell the difference between a stray, feral or wandering domestic cat from 50 yards while you are shooting him/her? Collars can’t be seen at 50 yards and in any case most cats don’t have collars. I think this an illegal activity.

          • What they are doing is legal. Once a (potentially) feral cat hops over a fence onto the farmer’s land, he is within his rights to shoot it. This came up a few years ago after one of the Mammal Society Surveys and cat control was discussed on Radio 4, including interviews with landowners and (anti-cat) naturalists over the legality. Plus an item about an owner who claimed her cat had been shot while sitting on the fence between her land and the farmer’s land.

            It may seem distasteful, but feral cats are considered pests.

    • I’ve been the Netherlands and it is the sort of place where you would never believe they’d shoot cats. It is a really nice place and the people are nice. They all speak good English which helps! This is why I am shocked at this crazy cat hunting.

      • Here’s my friends reply:

        Dordrecht is a city that is part of the state zuid -Holland,
        There are a lot of sort of ghetto suburbans here,
        Those people are lowlife ,these kids all kind of trouble…
        But it isn’t legal,and they get punished when they get them,
        But difficult to find….the criminal…

        ….in other words, he did not know about it – as far as I can tell, even though he lives in the middle of it and has 2 cats.

  2. How absolutely horrible, it’s a wonder anyone living in those places dares to have a cat, even an indoor one could accidentally get out and be killed just for the crime of being a cat, and what’s the betting that the hunters really enjoy themselves blasting cats to death what a golden opportunity for cat haters to take out their spite on cats legally, I heard that Woody had emigrated to Noord-Brabant!

  3. I have wonderful memories of my shipping visits to Dutch ports in the 1980’s and consider Holland as one of the best Country’s in the World for its living standards and freedom. Surprised to read that “CAT HUNTING” is a sport legalized by the Dutch Government.Its as strange as hearing that “DOGS’ are eaten in some parts of Switzerland.During my recent tour of Vietnam i came across a Swiss tourist who surprised me by saying that “DOGS” and not “CATS” were eaten in some parts of Switzerland.I Hope Marc a prominent Swiss national on “P.O.C”explains this controversy of weather cats or dogs are eaten in some parts of Switzerland.

  4. This is dreadful! That any government anywhere in the world condone the killing of cats is shocking, the human race didn’t domesticate them all those thousands of years ago to turn around and kill them now as if they are dangerous wild beasts.
    What has gone wrong with this planet? Why are there so many heartless people who don’t value all life whether human or animal?
    The thought of the future frightens me and I’m very very glad that neither Barbara nor I will be leaving any family when we have gone, because this world which was created as a beautiful place for all living beings to share, is now ruined by the people who don’t appreciate it and everything good in it.

    • Thanks, Marc. I did not mean any harm to my kindred spirits. Please keep that in mind? I am so thankful that you are home again. Did you update on your cats and I missed it somewhere along? Anyway, I am glad that you are home, safe and sound (w/your missies)! It feels so good, don’t it? 🙂

      • I am and was very happy to be back thank you 🙂 It’s great. I had a stomach flu though but that’s finally gone away so I am doing good. 🙂

  5. While researching this [via google], I came across this:

    “Since 1996, the Western Australian Government has baited all its National Parks and Forest Reserves with meat laced with the toxic poison, 1080, in order to attempt to control these introduced predators from killing the native wildlife.”
    Is this truly the plight of feral/domestic cats in not only the Netherlands, but also, Australia? [and many other countries?]

    • Australian’s ‘in general’ (I know it’s bad to generalize but one has to) are mean and cruel right wing people who enjoy putting immigrants on islands in terrible conditions – and who like to kill and get drunk and fight.

      Yes =- it’s general – and I spent 3 months there and that’s my ‘general’ conclusion of the backwards place which is australia.

      The netherlands however is quite the opposite. This is very suprising. I have a friend who lives in Ultrecht, and 2 others who live in Dordrecht. Of all countries to behave like this I am most suprised by the Netherlands failing massively on this issue. I can’t believe it. The netherlands is an otherwise very decent country, perhaps on the level of Switzerland – or so I thought but I see now I was wrong.

      I will talk to my friends out there and see what they have to say – one of them in Dordrecht (not mentioned here thank god) has 2 cats so I would like to hear from him directly about this issue. Maybe being in a town that is not on this bad list he might not know about it but my friend in Ultrecht may well have something to say although I am not sure he has a cat. I know them all through bicycle collecting. All very nice decent people, typically Swiss in many ways. The Netherlands used to be a mini Switzelrnad in my mind – not anymore – it’s just become a mini usa. Shocking.

    • The fact that the australians think a long painful death via poisoning is ok just goes to show you what a f’d up backwards sh*th*le of a place it really is.

      The politics in that country are rotten. They have a new macho head of state now who likes to make rude jokes about women. What wonderful place. Probably never going back.

      • There is a lot going on there, in “Oz” land. I had no idea that they could be cruel, until after researching Michael’s info (not that it needs it). You have friends far and wide, and we here at the cats’ int’l. community could benefit. Still, sorry for bringing up a sore spot. And I like it that you are home again, stating how you feel about this, even if it is a sad topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.