Stray tabby cat with green eyes walking on sidewalk streets.
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Saying ‘Here Puss’ Could Become Illegal in UK

In the United Kingdom, the act of enticing a stray cat with a gentle coax might soon not only draw curious glances from neighbors but potentially lead to criminal charges. This scenario emerges as the proposed “Pet Abduction Bill” progresses through Parliament, aiming to redefine the legal framework surrounding the treatment of our four-legged companions.

Parliament’s Pet Abduction Bill could criminalize coaxing of cats

Under the emerging Pet Abduction Bill, any form of inducement leading a cat to follow a person could soon be considered a punishable offense. The legislation proposes severe penalties for those found guilty of abducting cats or dogs, including up to five years in prison, fines, or both.

Animal rights advocates have actively propelled this development, gathering 45,000 signatures last year to emphasize the shortcomings of the current law — the Theft Act of 1968. This legislation currently categorizes pets merely as property, imposing penalties based solely on their monetary value rather than recognizing their emotional and social significance to owners.

The new bill distinctly identifies cat abduction as involving actions that cause or persuade a cat to follow an individual. This definition has sparked lively debates and humorous commentary on social media, where users ponder the implications of benign interactions with neighborhood cats.

Nevertheless, Anna Firth, the Conservative MP spearheading the bill, reassured Parliament that the legislation aims to distinguish between nefarious acts of abduction and the benevolent care for cats believed to be stray or lost. Dubbed the “Granny Meow” principle, this clarification seeks to protect well-intentioned individuals from criminal charges while maintaining a cat’s autonomy as a free-roaming animal — per The Telegraph.

Despite the assurances, ambiguity remains concerning the legality of certain interactions with cats not owned by the individual. Notably, Cats Protection, a leading charity, highlighted the innate independence of cats, which may lead them to seek new homes when their living conditions change. The proposed legislation also contains provisions for those who, out of goodwill, take in a cat from someone they used to live with prior to obtaining the pet, adding layers of complexity to the debate.


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