Animal welfare in England: domestic pets Contents



108.Cat breeding is not regulated in the UK—there is no legislation regulating the breeding of cats that is equivalent to the legislation in respect of dogs. Regulation of commercial cat breeding exists in the Czech Republic, various US states and the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria.88

109.Witnesses expressed concern regarding the effects of indiscriminate breeding on the number of cats in the UK, and their welfare. Cats Protection said that irresponsible breeding added to the numbers of unwanted cats in need of good homes. In 2015, Cats Protection received nearly 3,000 stray cats.89 Cats are prolific breeders and one female can have up to 18 kittens a year. It is estimated that one un-neutered female cat could be responsible for 20,000 descendants in five years. Cats Protection told us that neutering was an important aspect of controlling the cat population. In particular, their Trap Neuter Release Scheme was aimed at feral cats, who had not been properly socialised.

110.Some witnesses argued that there should be regulation of those who breed and sell cats on a commercial basis, comparable to that for dogs, including welfare conditions. A licence would be required based on litter numbers. Cats Protection told us: “If you have one litter, that can be an accident. If you have two and you are selling them, frankly, you should be controlled. Simple”.90

111.The Minister told us that there were no plans to regulate the breeding of cats. He considered the nature of the market for cats and dogs to be different, and cats did not cost as much as dogs.91

112.Although the dog market is more lucrative, we do not consider this a reason to do less to protect the welfare of cats. Although it is recognised that responsible breeders prioritise welfare conditions, many cats are bred in poor welfare conditions. We recommend that breeders of cats of two litters or more should be licensed, with welfare conditions attached.


113.Many of the issues we have discussed in the previous Chapter regarding the sale of dogs under the Pet Animals Act 1951 apply to cats. While we understand that the trade of cats is different, there can be no reason to allow welfare standards to be lower for cats than dogs. In particular, witnesses expressed concern regarding the age at which kittens were sold, repeat breeding of the family cat, and the lack of a clear definition of commercial business selling to require commercial activity to be licensed.

114.We recommend that the Government undertakes further research on the sale of cats and proposes recommendations to improve the trade.

88 Lord Black of Brentwood introduced the Welfare of Cats (Breeding and Sale) Bill in the House of Lords on 8 June 2015 [HL Bill 33]

89 Cats Protection (AWF0175)

90 Q239

91 Q874

11 November 2016