CHARITY Cats Protection has welcomed groundbreaking new laws on animal welfare in Scotland but says more still needs to be done to help cats.

The charity says new licensing regulations which come into force today will help to stamp out rogue cat breeders who put profit before the welfare of kittens and cats.

Cats Protection’s advocacy and government relations Officer for Scotland Alice Palombo said: “Over the past 18 months of the pandemic, a combination of increased demand for kittens and restrictions on household visiting has created the perfect conditions for unscrupulous breeders to flourish. We’ve heard countless stories of people being duped into buying underage, poorly kittens which either haven’t survived or have needed costly vet care.

“It’s not just the kittens that suffer – there are many female cats forced to have litter after litter in poor conditions.”

Under the new laws, anyone breeding three or more litters of kittens in a 12-month period must be licensed. Female cats will be limited to two litters in a year at most. There will be a ban on breeding cats with extreme traits which can lead to health conditions, such as the Scottish Fold.

Erin Macqueen, 22, from Glasgow, bought a kitten in March which turned out to be just five weeks old. Named Frankie, she died a few weeks later from a condition believed to be related to its poor start in life.

Macqueen said: “Frankie was advertised as male and 12 weeks old. The vet said she was a girl and only five weeks. Alarm bells rang when the seller delivered her to me. She wasn’t even in a carrier, the seller just had her tucked under her coat. I could see Frankie was tiny, but by that point it’s too heartbreaking to say no. I didn’t know what I’d be sending her back to.”

After becoming unwell, Frankie had to be put to sleep, leaving Macqueen distressed and with a £750 vet bill.

Cats Protection is now launching its Time is Meow campaign. A five-point action plan includes compulsory microchipping for pet cats, a ban on snares, encouraging landlords to let renters have cats, inclusion of animal welfare in the National Curriculum and more work to tackle unscrupulous breeding.

Palombo added: “Scotland is leading the way in the UK when it comes to regulating cat breeding and animal rescues but there is always more to be done.”