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Petition Ghost's Law - Kittens must be vaccinated and checked by vet before they’re sold

Kittens are being sold on websites by people who are not registered breeders. Without being checked by a vet and they’re not receiving their vaccinations. Health problems that are hereditary are not being discovered until later life, which leaves to a poor prognosis of the kitten.

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By requiring a vet to check over the kitten as well as the mother, it would allow potential owners to know about any problems that may arise. It would allow the vet to examine the kitten and mother and decide if they’re both happy and not at risk of any infections. It would prevent people breeding kittens for money and would lead to a better quality of life for the kittens. It would also allow the vet to insist on neutering if the mother is passing hereditary problems to the kittens such as FIV.

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Government responded

This response was given on 6 April 2021

This Government is committed to high standards of animal welfare, including for cats. We have addressed the low welfare sale of kittens through regulating commercial sales and the Petfished campaign.

This Government is committed to high standards of animal welfare, including cat and kitten welfare. The Government promotes and supports responsible pet ownership including the appropriate treatment and vaccination of pets. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats provides owners with information on how to keep their cat healthy and protect them from pain, suffering, injury and disease, as required by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/697941/pb13332-cop-cats-091204.pdf

The Code of Practice sets out that if you decide to breed from your cat, your vet can advise on the risk of inherited conditions and exaggerated features. Kittens require care and cannot be sold under eight weeks. Raising kittens can be difficult and time-consuming, and breeders should be aware that their responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act to meet their animals’ needs apply equally to cats of all ages. You should take the advice of your vet on how often your cat needs a health check and about the actions you can take to protect your cat’s health including routine preventive health care, such as vaccination, neutering and treatments to control parasites (e.g. fleas and worms), as well as how to deal with any current health problems your cat may have.

Further advice on the impact of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) including steps to prevent and treat the virus, is available from animal welfare organisations such as Blue Cross: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/fiv-cats. Advice on vaccinating small animals is available from veterinary practices or the British Small Animal Veterinary Services:
https://www.bsava.com/Resources/Veterinary-resources/Position-statements/Vaccination

Requiring all cats and kittens to be examined by a veterinary expert and checked for hereditary diseases and regulating for specific actions to be taken in the case of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), would create a significant burden. However, the Government has taken action to tackle unregistered unscrupulous breeding and sales.

We have taken action to strengthen the regulation of pet sales. Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (the 2018 Regulations) anyone who is in the business of selling animals as pets (including cats) needs a valid licence from their local authority. Licencees must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences.

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) was created in 2001 to combat growing concerns regarding the irresponsible advertising of pets for sale, rehoming, and exchange. The Group comprises animal welfare organisations, trade associations and veterinary bodies. PAAG is endorsed by Defra, as well as other government departments and has been engaging with online marketplaces in the UK to help them distinguish between appropriate adverts and those that should be removed. Defra has also backed a set of minimum standards that PAAG has developed. Several of the UK’s largest classified websites have agreed to meet those standards.

Commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens were banned in England from 6 April 2020. This prevents pet shops, pet dealers and other commercial outlets from selling these animals in England unless they themselves have bred them. It means anyone looking to get a puppy or kitten must buy direct from a breeder or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. In addition to, and ahead of, the ban coming into force, Defra launched a national communications campaign (Petfished) to raise awareness of issues associated with low-welfare and illegal supply of pets. This includes providing clear signposting on where responsible breeders and rehoming centres can be found and encouraging prospective buyers to research the seller thoroughly before they visit and decide to purchase. The campaign provides a list of red flags for buyers to look out for when searching for a pet online. The step by step guide on buying a dog or cat includes a reminder to check whether your new pet will be vaccinated and socialised before you take it home. More information can be found here: https://getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk/

If anyone has any concerns about the welfare of an animal that is being sold, whether online or at a traditional pet shop, they should report the matter to the relevant local authority which has powers to investigate.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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