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.”