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.”