The catalyst for this government petition which I've started was a recent discussion amongst friends on Facebook. But there's a little more to it than that...
I am a lifelong cat lover; my partner and I have four cats of our own, and we also both volunteer for the Cats Protection Derby Adoption Centre. Here I see the large number of stray cats who need to be rehomed – perhaps they already have a home, but without a microchip it is often impossible to find out. This fact was brought home to me in a big way last September, when a starving black cat wandered into our garden. He wasn't microchipped, and although we advertised him far and wide, we never found his owner. 'Othello' joined our feline family, but not all lost cats are so lucky. 'Othello' is the lead photo.
Unwanted Kittens at Cats Protection
At Cats Protection I also see how many unwanted kittens are born; every spring we are inundated with them. The flood of newborns goes on throughout the summer, quietens down a little over winter, then starts all over again. Why don't people neuter their cats, we all ask? Often it seems to be just ignorance; owners don't realise that their sweet little four month old kitten can become pregnant. Other people just don't bother, or cling to the old wives' tale that a female cat should be allowed to have one litter for the sake of her health. Something clearly needed to be done.
A Facebook Discussion Started Things
However, like most people, I thought all this was someone else's responsibility. Then one day recently, a cat loving friend posted a photo on Facebook, of a young cat together with its aborted foetus. She apologised if the picture upset anyone, but said it was a real case; a kitten of less than six months which had become pregnant. The picture shocked everyone, and we all commented on how awful it was. I posted that neutering of cats should become mandatory unless they were in an approved breeding programme. They would have to be microchipped too, so that an unneutered cat's owner could be found, if indeed it had one. I said someone should start a petition about it, but at the time it was just a throwaway comment, written late at night, as you do. I wasn't sure that everyone would agree with me anyway. However, many posters did, and even more 'liked' my post. But no-one did anything practical about it.
Three of my loving contented cats!
I Start a Petition
So I began to think... I'd suggested starting a petition, and no-one had. So...maybe I should do so. Why not? Clearly the only way to get something done about this issue would be to get the government and Parliament involved. To do that, I would have to get at least 10,000 signatures on a petition. I didn't know if I could do that, but it certainly wouldn't happen if I didn't try. It was an important issue, not just for cats, but for owners, workers in rescue centres, people who were bothered by stray cats, and also lovers of the countryside and our heritage, since stray cats can decimate wildlife. If cats were microchipped and strayed, their owners could be traced. Cats with no owners could be taken to a rescue centre, neutered and microchipped, and rehomed. Of course a few feral cats might slip through the net, but in time there would be fewer and fewer of these. It all made sense, and I decided to give it a go.
I have six months to get all those signatures, and I still need many more. My petition can be found here.