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Cats: Smuggling

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 126568, tabled on 21 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the effectiveness of the provisions in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill in helping to prevent the smuggling of cats and kittens.

Answered on

1 March 2022

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June and is progressing through Parliament. The Bill includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and on 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. The consultation proposed to maintain the existing requirements for cats. This is because there is currently limited evidence that there is a significant illegal trade in cats or significant numbers of low welfare movements. The number of non-compliant cats seized at the border is much lower than for dogs, for example, in 2020 we seized and detained 17 kittens (under 15 weeks) compared with 543 puppies. We have also not seen the same issues with pregnant cats being imported, with no pregnant cats seized and detained in 2020.

The consultation sought views on whether maintaining the existing requirements in relation to cats was the right approach. We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary in due course. This will allow us to take on board the views of the public and interested groups in order to shape our future policy.

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