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Closed petition Introduce mandatory neutering of pet cats

In April Spain introduced compulsory sterilisation of cats by six months of age, unless they are registered as breeding animals. We are calling on the Government to tackle the crisis of homeless cats, by making neutering of cats mandatory by six months of age, except of licensed breeding cats.

More details

We have a major crisis with homeless cats. Many rescues are full and cannot help all stray cats. This is because owners are not getting cats neutered allowing them to multiply.

The breeding is totally out of control, kittens are being born outside, with some being eaten by other wildlife or creating feral colonies. Come the winter, many may die of hypothermia.

Future breeding of cats must be controlled and licensed accordingly.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 October 2023

The Government has no plans to mandate the neutering of cats.

The neutering of pets is a decision for owners, and the Government has no plans to make this mandatory for cats. The Government greatly appreciates the important work that cat welfare and rescue organisations do, often on a voluntary basis, to ensure that unwanted and abandoned cats are offered the opportunity of a forever home and to manage free-living groups of cats. 

This includes work to support neutering undertaken by Cats Protection as well as its Cat Watch initiative. Running since 2016, the initiative aims to improve understanding of the unowned and free-living cat population in urban areas and work alongside communities to improve cat welfare. The initiative has assisted communities with a trap-neuter-return service.

Cat owners are reminded of their responsibilities in the Government’s Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats which can be found here: Code of practice for the welfare of cats - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-for-the-welfare-of-cats. The code summarises important information for owners and helps them make decisions about how best to care for their cats including advising owners to consider neutering their cats to avoid an unwanted litter increasing the cat population.

From 10th June 2024, all cats in England over 20 weeks of age must be microchipped and registered on a compliant database, unless exempt or free-living. The new legislation is intended to increase the likelihood that lost or stray pet cats can be identified and reunited with their keeper, helping to reduce the stray cat population.

Under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (the 2018 Regulations) anyone in the business of breeding and selling cats as pets, needs to hold a valid licence issued by their local authority. Licencees must achieve and maintain statutory minimum animal welfare standards, linked to the welfare needs of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences.

Additionally, since April 2020, when the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force, pet shops, pet dealers and other commercial pet sellers are prohibited from selling kittens in England that they have not bred themselves.

Defra is currently undertaking a post-implementation review of the 2018 Regulations in line with the requirements of the regulations’ review clause. This review will consider whether the regulations have met their objectives, and where there could be scope for further improvements.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Consideration of Government response to the petition you signed (correction)

You may have previously received an email from us about the Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) considering the Government’s response to this petition. This email said that the Committee felt that the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response.

This message was sent in error, and the Committee has not requested a revised response to this petition. The Government's response did directly address the request of the petition you signed, so has been noted by the Petitions Committee.

We are sorry for this error, and any confusion this has caused.