RSPCA sets ambitions for cats: halve cruelty, end illegal kitten sales and introduce compulsory microchipping

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29 January 2021
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The RSPCA has launched its new strategy ‘Together for Animal Welfare’ which includes aims to halve cruelty to cats and other pets, stop illegal selling of kittens, and introduce compulsory microchipping for cats — all by 2030.

Halving cruelty

Figures from 2019 show the RSPCA successfully prosecuted 196 cases of cruelty on cats and in 2020 investigated 55,667 incidents of cruelty, neglect, and suffering towards them.

The charity wants to reduce cruelty to pets by 50% in the next decade and as part of that aim, its rescue and care of animals will continue to be central to its work. The RSPCA sees more cats come into its care than any other pet, so it has a range of goals in its strategy to help improve their lives.

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Kitten sales

Alice Potter, RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, said: “We want to see an end to the illegal import and selling of kittens and have already made great strides in this area with the third-party ban on selling puppies and kittens being introduced in England last April.

“However, last October and November commercial cat imports more than doubled from the previous year, a worrying move that mimics the commercial trade that already exists for puppies. As part of our #ForPupsSake campaign, we believe an increase in the age of kittens being trafficked from 15 to 24 weeks will stop this trade and improve the welfare of cats.

“We want to see the third-party sales ban introduced in Wales and a viable enforcement regime for this, as well as licensing regulations enforced by the local authorities across England and Wales.”

Mandatory microchipping

Another key priority for the RSPCA is to help push for the introduction of compulsory microchipping for owned cats.

Alice says: “We have seen many stories of cats that have been hit by a car or strayed who never end up being reunited with their owner as they weren’t microchipped, as well as cats who have been reunited with their owners by our dedicated officers thanks to this tiny chip.

“We would like to see compulsory microchipping for owned cats introduced in England and Wales and are pleased that the Westminster Government has committed to introducing this in 2021.

“Neutering is also key to cat welfare. The lack of cat neutering during lockdown will also have an impact on the cat overpopulation crisis we are facing today. Sadly, we often see the dark side of this crisis with so many cats being born and not enough homes available for them, meaning we see people dumping cats and kittens by the roadside or elderly cats waiting in our centres to find a loving home. We believe neutering kittens from four-months-old will help to tackle this crisis and reduce the numbers of unexpected and unwanted kittens being born which sadly end up coming into our rescue centres.”

Working together

Chief Executive Chris Sherwood said the charity could not achieve the challenging ambitions on its own and the key to success was partnership working to do the best for animals.

 “Our frontline rescue and care work saving animals 365 days a year will continue to be at the heart of what we do. But the world is changing and we recognise we can’t do it alone.

“To achieve our ambitious aims for animal welfare, we will partner with volunteers, communities, RSPCA branches, colleagues in the welfare sector and beyond, to reach the animals who need us most.”

To find out more about the RSPCA’s new strategy - Together for Animal Welfare - visit our website.