The UK has a long history of leading the way on animal welfare. I am glad that ministers are committed to improving our world-leading standards through a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. In addition, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill will bring in some of the world’s strongest protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals. I look forward to supporting the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament.
In August 2021, the Government launched an eight-week consultation on proposed restrictions to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain. I am aware that this consultation did not include proposals to increase the minimum age of kittens imported or non-commercially moved to six months or ban the import of heavily pregnant or declawed cats. I understand that this is because there is limited evidence of a significant illegal trade in cats or significant numbers of low welfare movements.
I understand that the estimate of 70,000 cats detailed in the Cats Protection’s ‘Cats and Their Stats’ report appears to be based on an estimate of the number of cats obtained between March 2020 and March 2021 and the proportion of individuals that reported in a survey that they had sourced a pet from abroad during the same period. I am aware that official Government statistics show that between March 2020 and March 2021, 27,601 cats entered the UK under the non-commercial rules and 8,511 cats entered under commercial rules.
Overall, the number of movements of cats into Great Britain is much lower than for dogs. I know that ministers are not seeing the same issues with young kittens and pregnant cats being imported. In 2020, for example, no pregnant cats and only 17 kittens under the age of 15 weeks) were seized and detained. I am assured that my ministerial colleagues are currently analysing the responses to the consultation.
I welcome that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has now passed Committee Stage in the House of Commons and will return to the House as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.