The Animal Welfare Act is aimed at preventing cruelty and promoting and ensuring the welfare of animals.
The act applies to both domestic and feral cats and places an obligation on owners to make sure the welfare needs of their cats are met. These include a suitable environment, suitable diet, to exhibit a normal behaviour pattern and to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
The penalties for committing an offence include a fine of up to £20,000 or in some cases a six month prison sentence. The act also states the minimum age at which anyone can buy an animal to be 16.
Cats are regarded by law as the property of their owner and theft of a cat is treated as an offence.
A cat that has strayed or is lost is generally regarded as the property of the original owner, it is therefore necessary to make all reasonable endeavours to locate the original owner.
Because the law regards cats as property an offence may be committed if a person kills or injures a cat belonging to another person.
It is a commonly held view that a cat has a right to roam wherever they wish as cats are less likely than some other animals to cause injury to people or to damage their property.
If a large number of cats are kept at a domestic residence, the local planning authority may consider that the number of cats is not incidental to the ordinary use and enjoyment of the residential property. They may require the owner or occupier of the property to make an application for change of use. If this is not granted then the owner or occupier may be required to reduce the number of cats kept at the property.
In addition, the environmental health departments have powers in respect of hazards eg fouling, smell and noise caused as a result of too many cats being kept at a single property.
The Pet Travel Scheme allows cats to travel between EU countries and some other countries without quarantine in certain situations. Your vet will be able to arrange a Pet Passport but it is advisable to contact www.defra.gov.uk for more information.