As I understand it, the raison d’être of catsmatter.org is (a) the introduction of a law which makes it obligatory for drivers to report road traffic accidents (RTAs) involving cats to the authorities and (b) to make it mandatory for all councils to scan for a microchip every cat found by the roadside having been hit by a vehicle. This is a very worthy cause. It is estimated that 250,000 cats are killed on the roads in the UK annually. Older, spayed females are less likely to be involved in RTAs.
It is already obligatory to report RTAs regarding dogs to the authorities so there’s no reason why the same procedure cannot take place with respect to cats. It is an anomaly which needs to change. Cats are treated too casually in respect of RTAs. I believe this attitude is partly due to the fact that in the UK cat owners often have a casual acceptance of the dangers of free-roaming domestic cats. Too many cat owners in the UK let their cats roam free even in built up areas in contrast to the USA.
The good news is that there is a growing campaign to change the law regarding cats and RTAs. The Labour Party in their animal welfare manifesto have stated that they support a requirement that motorists report accidents where an animal has been injured. This change is an implied reference to cats.
Clearly, a large number of Members of Parliament want to introduce this legislation. The question is whether Labour will get into power which is probably unlikely (many will disagree!) but nonetheless for catsmatter.org to attract the support of a major political party is wonderful news and it brings them one step closer to rectifying this anomaly in the animal welfare laws of the UK.
Mandy of catsmatter.org told me how this came about:
“How that all came about was we met with DEFRA in January, and Sue Hayman was especially supportive – having lost pets herself to the road sadly. We handed over our draft proposals which she saw real potential with. For her to pledge it in the manifesto is a really encouraging commitment, and we are really excited how this will now play out.
What we know so far is herself, and DEFRA ministers will be drafting up our proposals. Then the draft will need signing off by various ministers and departments etc. Then were told it goes to the Treasury to be signed off in terms of any budget that needs allocating to it.
All being well it will then be written in to legislation. That’s the black and white of it, and obviously that is brilliant news – the best we could ever have hoped for, but we remain cautious just in case it does not get signed off as planned. We will crack open the bubbly once it’s all gone through…. The fact the Labour party have officially committed to it, and we know Sue is 101% behind the goal, we are pleased we’re in the best position possible.”