The 2021 AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats will be taking place at 9.50am on the 16th March. Following the AGM a meeting will be held pet ownership and the rental market. The meeting will see the election of officers and reflect on the group’s priorities for the year ahead. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. The meeting will be held over Zoom, the meeting link will be sent to those that RSVP closer to the date of the event.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats will be holding an Extraordinary General Meeting. This meeting is required to elect a new co-chair for the group. APGOCATs are very grateful for all the work our previous co-chair, Steve Reed MP, did with the group over the years.
The meeting will also be an oppertunity for members to discuss the publication of the loneliness report and the next steps for the group.
This meeting with be held virtually on the 10th September at 1.30pm – please RSVP to email@example.com.
Spending time with cats may be a useful way to combat loneliness and its damaging effects, a new report from a cross-party group of MPs has revealed.
New research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats (APGOCATS), published today, found cat ownership and interaction is one of a number of measures with the potential to tackle loneliness across all age groups in specific social situations.
The report is supported by some of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities – Battersea, Cats Protection and Blue Cross. It makes a series of recommendations for care providers, welfare charities and the Government to explore allowing and encouraging people who are struggling with loneliness to interact with cats.
Recommendations include prescribing spending social time with cats – whether this is volunteering or fostering felines for animal rescues or, if appropriate for the individual, getting a cat as a pet. At all times, cat welfare should be protected alongside human wellbeing.
The report calls on the Government to commission specific research on the benefits of cat ownership to those experiencing loneliness, working alongside animal rescue charities.
Sheryll Murray MP, Chair of APGOCATS, said: “As a cat owner I have always found great pleasure and happiness from having cats in my life and can testify to how they can be great companions and provide love, support and enjoyment. I am delighted, as Chair of APGOCATS, to present this report to Government and professional organisations working in this field.
“Tackling loneliness is a priority health issue facing many across the UK. The role cats and other pets can play to help tackle the problem is under-researched and merits further attention. I very much look forward to taking forward the report recommendations.”
Loneliness has been identified as one of the most pressing public health issues facing the UK, leading to the publication of the Government’s Strategy to deal with the issue.
The Minister responsible for tackling loneliness, Baroness Barran MBE, said: “As the Minister for Loneliness, I think a lot about the different ways we can help people who feel lonely, from befriending to community groups. I personally believe that pets, including cats, can be a welcome source of support and can bring real joy to people’s lives.”
Currently, companion animal ownership or interaction is not widely promoted by health and social welfare professionals. APGOCATS took evidence from mental health and social care charities, academics, housing and healthcare providers on the benefits cats provide in terms of companionship. The group also took evidence on the complexities involved with tackling individual loneliness. The report makes clear that interaction with cats needs to be seen as just one measure that may help, alongside others such as social interaction.
Robin Hewings, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at the Campaign to End Loneliness said: “I very much welcome this report by APGOCATS which has been compiled by organisations and experts that care about both cats and people. It is clear that the role of cats in combating loneliness is under-explored and this report goes a long way to highlighting the many ways they can help. There is no simple cure for loneliness, but there is clearly real potential for cats to have a more beneficial role in people’s lives, and I urge the Government to consider the findings of this report.”
The full report sets out a ‘paw print’ for future work on the potential for cats to help combat loneliness. Alongside plans for piloting new social prescribing activities, other recommendations include practical measures for the Government to take through research alongside academics; encouraging housing providers to allow more renters to own or foster cats; health care providers to be able to access information on cat care and animal welfare organisations to widely share advice about owning and caring for cats. To read the full report, click here
‘The inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats is taking place on Tuesday 11 February at 5pm in Room T, Portcullis House. The meeting will see the election of officers and reflect on the group’s priorities for the year ahead. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
DEFRA Minister sets out a plan to give felines a voice at first business meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on cats
Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Minister Lord Gardiner made a keynote speech at the first business meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats (APGOCATS) last week at Westminster, setting out a vision for tackling cat welfare issues and promoting the positive contribution cats make to society.
APGOCATS is the first Parliamentary group devoted specifically to cats and is made up of MPs and Peers. It is supported by two of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities – Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Cats Protection.
At the meeting, Lord Gardiner congratulated the group on creating a voice for cat welfare at Westminster. He reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to ensuring high welfare standards for cats and all other animals and spoke about the importance of responsible cat ownership.
APGOCATS outlined their plans for the year ahead which will focus on developing animal welfare policies with cats in mind. There was support within the group to explore how cat ownership can benefit human wellbeing and tackle issues such as social isolation.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Gardiner said: “This Government is committed to improving the welfare of all animals.”
“To help deliver this ambition, we have enhanced the Code of Practice for cats to provide better protection. We have also completed a Call for Evidence about commercial third-party sale of puppies and kittens and are currently considering the responses.
“Given these animals give so much to us, it is important that we give back to them by ensuring they have the highest welfare standards possible.”
APGOCATS also plans to champion cat-related issues such as the importance of education around neutering and microchipping owned cats.
APGOCATS Co-Chair, Steve Reed MP, said: “Cats are beloved pets in millions of homes across the UK, yet they are often forgotten in making public policy.
“Tackling issues like cruelty to cats, genetic problems in breeding and highlighting the benefits cats can bring to their owners now has cross-party support; and it’s to be welcomed that cats now have a unique voice in Parliament through APGOCATS.”
The basic design of the domestic cat is fundamentally sound. As da Vinci said, ‘The smallest feline is a masterpiece.’ It’s a design that evolved through functionality – cats needed to hunt, kill prey, in turn avoid being killed by predators, reproduce and lead a vigorous athletic life. The result is a fit, elegant, lithe animal that should, if fed and housed properly (and neutered), have few health issues and live a long life. The non-pedigree cat the world over looks remarkably consistent in size and shape, all with hair, upright ears and a tail.
Of course humans like variety and something different, so we have created cat breeds, just as we have dog breeds, although cat breeds have not been developed for specific functions as dog breeds did originally.
The problems associated with flat faced pedigree dogs, such as the pug and French bulldog, have become more recognised and more publicised recently. The cat world has its own version of pugs and bulldogs – the Persian and Exotic breeds (an Exotic is basically a short-haired Persian with the same body conformation). The change in the shape of the skull results in obstruction of the system in which tears keep the eye lubricated and drain away through the tear ducts. The result is that the tears stream down the front of their face causing staining and skin problems. These cats often have excessive folds of skin on their faces which can lead to bacterial and or fungal disease and these folds can rub against the eye as well. Jaw shape can affect the cat’s ability to pick up food and teeth grow through at strange angles so they may not be able to eat properly and food may accumulate between the teeth. The facial conformation changes that result in problems in dogs are present in brachycephalic cats too, such as, pinched or narrow nostrils and nasal cavities, which result in noisy breathing, and breathing that may stop and start during sleep. Lastly the reduced skull size results in the brain being squashed and may result in neurological problems.
While there may be an argument that some brachycephalic cats do not have such short faces as others, there is no excuse not to condemn breeding of the Scottish Fold – osteochondrodysplasia (disorder of the development of bone and cartilage) not only results in the abnormal forward folding of the cat’s ears which give it that cute, baby face that people desire, but it also affects cartilage throughout the body, meaning that these cats develop painful arthritis for much, if not all of their lives.
The Manx cat we can all recognise is also prone to spina bifida and associated complications which may be irreparable or require surgical intervention.
At present there are fewer problems in cats than in dogs, but some which need urgent attention. Let’s work on these and also prevent any more from occurring.
International Cat Care
Cats are the topic of the day in Westminster following the launch of the first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) dedicated to improving feline welfare.
The first meeting of the new group took place at Westminster on Tuesday 6 March. The group is made up of MPs and Peers with the support of two of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities – Cats Protection and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
The APPG on Cats (APGOCATS) will discuss feline welfare and how to tackle key cat issues both in parliament and in society more widely. The group will be looking to propose solutions to a range of problems facing cats, such as toxins contained in antifreeze and laws on air guns, as well as highlighting the benefits of owning a cat to combat loneliness.
Maria Caulfield MP, (pictured above) who was elected Chair at the meeting, said: “As a cat owner myself, I’m very pleased to have been elected Chair of a group which recognises the important role cats play in many people’s lives, and which will work to better protect the needs of both cats and their owners.
“Cats are wonderful animals and provide much love, support and companionship to a wide range of people, from young families to elderly people living on their own.”
Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations Jacqui Cuff said: “Cats are one of the nation’s most popular pets, and their welfare is of huge importance to millions of owners. Yet despite their popularity, cats all too often suffer from a lack of specific legislation to protect them. Where legislation does exist, there are often enforcement and prosecution issues, which need to be addressed.
“Cats Protection’s ten-point Manifesto for Cats, launched ahead of the 2015 election, has received great cross-party support from politicians, yet there is still much to be done to ensure cats are protected. It’s entirely right cats are now going to have their own group in parliament to put a spotlight on feline welfare issues. We’re excited to work with this group as it strives to improve the lives of cats in the UK, something which will also be greatly welcomed by millions of animal lovers.”
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Michael Webb, said: “As one of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities, we’re ready to start work with politicians and other charities to raise the profile of issues affecting cats, who are loved in their millions across the country.
“We know from our work with MPs, including the Battersea’s annual Purr Minister competition, that there is a real passion for cats in Parliament. We therefore fully support the creation of APGOCATS which will be dedicated to tackling matters affecting feline welfare.”