Fears that lighter days will lead to more cat shootings

Cats Protection is renewing its call for the Government to license air guns, with lighter days following the clock change feared to lead to an increase in cats being victims of shootings.

By Stephanie Bateman
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 8:02 pm

The UK’s leading cat charity says its research shows an increase of nearly 50% in the number of air gun attacks on cats in the spring and summer compared to the rest of the year.

Katherine Brown’s much-loved cat Alaska died shortly after being shot by an air gun near her home last August.

She said: “It was the most traumatic experience which I wouldn’t wish on any animal. Alaska was a lovely, friendly young cat and was out near our home on a sunny afternoon. When she staggered into the garden, we could see straight away she was hurt and rushed her to a vet, but she died 20 minutes later.

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Alaska who died shortly after being shot by an air gun

“Until this happened, I had no idea that anyone over the age of 18 could purchase an air gun without the need for a licence. You just assume there must be some kind of restriction over these lethal weapons that can inflict such injuries. Not only was it devastating to lose Alaska in such a horrific way, it’s really worrying that there are people around who use weapons like this in such a nasty and reckless manner.”

Cats Protection, the UK's largest cat charity which helps around 200,000 cats every year, has been campaigning for air gun licensing in England and Wales, in line with existing laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Cats Protection’s Senior Advocacy & Government Relations Officer Madison Rogers said: “In the past, we've seen nearly 50% more press reports of shootings occurring in the months from April to September compared with the rest of the year. Sadly, warmer weather and longer hours of daylight seems to bring out the worst in people who wish to harm defenceless animals.

“Air gun attacks can leave cats with significant, life-changing injuries. It is not uncommon for them to lose their sight or need to have a limb amputated. Tragically, many cats do not survive their injuries. The misuse of air guns is also a concern for the wider community and the safety of everyone in local neighbourhoods.”

In November 2020, the Government announced the outcome of a consultation on air guns which ended in 2018, deciding not to consider the case for licensing air guns any further at this time, but looking at reducing access to air guns for under-18s.

Madison added: “Cats Protection welcomes this small positive step but will be pressing for the decision not to introduce licensing of these lethal weapons to be reconsidered. Cats Protection will also continue to raise our concern that unlicensed access to air guns is resulting in countless cats and other animals being shot, injured and killed.

“In the meantime, we’d urge any owner whose cat is sadly shot with an air gun to report it to the police.”

Cats Protection’s petition calling for air gun licensing in England and Wales has now gathered over 115,000 signatures. To sign the petition, please visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunpetition