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Cats: Imports

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 110282, tabled on 24 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the difference between official figures which report around 30,000 cats entering the UK legally commercially and non-commercially between March 2020 and March 2021 and the findings of Cats Protection’s Cats and Their Stats report that 70,000 cats entered the UK in the same period.

Answered on

27 January 2022

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. The 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 the commercial rules.

The official statistics are based on data submitted by pet checkers and carriers for non-commercial movements. Data for commercial movements in 2020 is taken from the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES), and data for commercial movements in 2021 is taken from the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS). We are working with the Cats Protection to understand the difference between the reported figures.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021 and completed committee on 18 November 2021. The Bill allows us to protect the welfare of pets by introducing restrictions to crack down on the low welfare movements of pets into Great Britain and includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

In August 2021, the Government launched an 8-week consultation on our proposed restrictions to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain. We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary in due course. This will allow us to take onboard the views of the public and interested groups in order to shape our future policy.

We will continue to work closely with stakeholders, including the Cats Protection, prior to the introduction of the legislation to ensure that our final measures are well considered and led by the latest evidence.