£20,000 Fine For Cats That Get the Cream! Tough New UK Cat Welfare Rules Praised by West London Cat Vet

Top Quote A new Code of Practice issued by DEFRA in the UK which arguably makes it illegal for cat owners to let their cats become obese and other strict rules, has been welcomed by London’s only cat vet, who says the rules could even have gone further. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) November 09, 2008 - (London, Richmond-Upon-Thames) The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) issued a controversial Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats this week. The Code has been criticised as being patronising to pet owners and a symptom of the nanny state, but London’s only cat veterinarian applauds the initiative saying the guidelines could even have been stronger.

    The Code does not technically have the force of law however it can influence a court considering prosecutions under the UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006 which imposes penalties of up to six (6) months imprisonment and fines of £20,000.

    Amongst the new obligations on cat owners are requirements to
    - ensure your cat has a place to climb
    - have at least one litter tray per cat in different parts of the house
    - control your cat’s diet so they are neither obese nor too thin
    - provide means of identification such as a micro-chip or a special type of collar
    - supply a suitable scratching post and toys, and
    - playing with your cat regularly

    Zeta Frasca, veterinarian and owner of London’s only exclusive cat vet clinic Kitten to Cat in Richmond West London said “The Code spells out the best practice for cat welfare, such as the importance of play time and the number and location of litter trays. These things are not intuitive and the Code does a good job of educating us on the effect these things have on cats’ stress levels and the types of problems you can expect if you get it wrong.”

    The report has also been criticised as an instrument for extremists to force cat owners to buy expensive cat toys in tough economic times. “The Code ultimately helps cat owners to reduce, not increase, the cost of pet ownership” refutes Ms Frasca, “I see many cats suffering from over eating, malnutrition, excessive grooming, spraying etc and as a vet I have a duty to investigate clinical causes. This can involve blood tests, observation and other expensive treatments which are often avoidable if the root cause – ie the stresses in the cat’s environment – is dealt with sooner. Buying the right food and ensuring your cat has plenty of activities aligned with their natural instincts might cost a bit more and take some effort in the short term but often reduces vets bills in the long run.”

    The code is so detailed that it will be very difficult to enforce in practice, however it helps animal health professionals communicate the importance of responsible pet ownership. “The scientific research is there to support this, but an official Code of Practice helps us reinforce the message,” said Ms Frasca.

    Her only criticism was of the Code is that it is not firm enough on the subject of neutering. She added “un-neutered males are more likely to roam at night, get into fights and put themselves at risk of road traffic accidents and infections“. The Code describes the benefits of neutering but falls short of clearly recommending that owners who are not intending to breed should have their cats neutered.

    About Kitten to Cat. Kitten to Cat is London’s only cat only veterinary clinic. By catering exclusively for felines Kitten to Cat is able to minimise stress for cats. In addition to a cat friendly veterinary surgery, Kitten to Cat, has boarding facilities equipped with web cams so owners can make a Skype video call anytime to check up on their loved ones.

    Find the Defra Code here:

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