What is acceptable animal welfare?

I accept that by my very presence of working in rescue I am perhaps slightly more aware of welfare standards than say Joe Public.  However the regulations around animal welfare, to me, an animal lover (aside from rescue involvement) seem purely common sense. So why do people in general, excluding the sick animal abusers in this discussion, as so called animal lovers fail so miserably to meet a basic level of welfare for their animals?

This is something which despite our years in rescue still completely baffles us.  One such instance is a little chap called Alfie. He is in deplorable condition with tight, painful matts from head to toe, swollen filthy eyes and god knows what else until our vets give him a once over. How old is this cat? 4yrs? 8 yrs? No. Only 1 year old and judging by his condition he has been like this for a very long time.

Is this an acceptable level of care for Alfie? or any cat?

So how can you live with a cat like Alfie & not see a suffering poorly cared for cat? I really don’t know.  Should breeders be more proactive with these kind of breeds to make sure people know how to groom & look after them properly? and do follow ups to ensure their well being? Perhaps they should. After all we offer guidance to people adopting long hair cats on tools and techniques and encourage them to visit to practice on our cats.

To us, this is just a logical step to ensuring they are cared for properly. Does a lack of information on this subject reflect on the quality of the breeder and how much they care for their cats… perhaps it does?

But pedigree long hair cats are not the only victims of this blind sighted view of welfare standards.

I would not be surprised if more than half of the cats and kittens in existence within family homes are not treated with preventatives for fleas and worms.  Most people are probably blissfully unaware that one goes hand in hand with the other.  Of those that are treated they do so after the infestation has occurred and in a number of cases will use dangerous supermarket brands that are equally ineffective rather than the inconvenience and cost of visiting their vet for good quality products. Having said that with the number of online suppliers such as petmeds who offer veterinary grade products delivered to your door, is there really any excuse?

If people could see the sores and hair loss associated with flea allergy dermatitis in cats and how painful it is, you would treat your cats with preventative medicines because that is all it takes to prevent it. Stop them becoming infested in the first place.

As well as an animals physical welfare what about psychologically? Have you ever given it thought? When was the last time you bought your cat new toys? Or did any of the things mentioned in our blog post – keeping your cat interested in toys? Gave them puzzle feeders or just stopped for a moment in your busy life to consider “is my cat happy”?

Being in rescue I feel very few people do. The number of cats relinquished for behaviour related problems as a result of stress is on the increase. So why do people blame their pet for being stressed thus making it ill? Do people ever stop to think what is wrong? Why are you unhappy? Or is it easier to pass the buck and either have the animal rehomed, put into rescue or euthanised?  I can’t answer that as my first question in this situation with a cat is “what is wrong” and my second “how do we help you” and do what we can to improve the situation.

Equally the number of vaccinated pets is decreasing with a subsequent increase in the virus’ around and in stronger forms. After all you wouldn’t go abroad and nor take your vaccines before you went so why put your pet in danger?

I would ask people to watch just 1 cat or kitten struggle through a bad cat flu or enteritis and your heart not break for their suffering and pain. Hopefully they would be lucky to survive but many don’t and it is a horrible, horrific way for them to die and it is preventable through vaccination.  Whilst this doesn’t stop them picking up the virus it does give them a fighting chance to fight it off quicker and in the hope they do so before it really takes hold and makes them critically ill.

At the end of the day and after much thought I have more questions than answers. The truth is I simply don’t understand why people don’t see what is in front of them. I don’t know why they don’t seek advice on caring for their pet and I definitely don’t understand why people don’t take preventative steps to keep their pet healthy.

Care of pets and our understanding of their behaviours grows every year so take advantage of organisations willing to offer advice regarding your pet rather than rely on old wives tales and ‘friendly advice’ which is often inaccurate at best and dangerous at its worst.

We offer advice on feeding, behaviour and general care of your cat or kitten just contact us and we are happy to help. The sooner you seek advice the better chance you have of avoiding problems now and in the future.

For a detailed guide to current regulations and basic care standards for cats under the new welfare act please click here.

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