Cats Protection has delivered a 100,000- strong petition directly to 10 Downing Street to call for a change in the law to air gun ownership in England and Wales.
The petition is part of a major campaign by the charity for legislation on air guns to be brought in line with stricter regulation that already exists in other part so the UK.
Along with over 50,000 supporters, the feline charity has also written to the Home Office calling for air gun licensing as part of a government review.
Cats Protection Chariman, Linda Upson, delivered the petition to Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street on Wednesday 9 May, along with acting Chief Executive Dominic Sullivan and the charity’s advocacy team.
The charity’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations, Jacqui Cuff said current laws in England and Wales meant that there are not sufficient safeguards to stop air guns falling into the wrong hands.
She said: “We know that 90% of reported air gun attacks on cats happen in England and Wales, and it’s no coincidence that these are parts of the country where licensing of air guns is not in place. Laws on air guns in Scotland and Northern Ireland are much tighter, an we believe this should apply for the whole of the UK.
“Cats who are shot with air guns can suffer horrific and often fatal injuries. We have heard stories of cats losing eyes, limbs and being left with life-changing injuries as a result of such attacks. Often owners are unaware of why their cat is injured until a veterinary x-ray shows air gun pellets embedded into their flesh.”
In 2017, 164 cats in the UK were reported in the press as being shot with an air gun.
A 2016 Cats Protection survey found that almost half of vets questioned (44%) had treated cats, which had been the victim of attacks by air-powered weapons in the last year.
Jacqui added: “In the wrong hands, air guns are deadly weapons, and updating the laws relating to them is well overdue in England and Wales. Our petition of 100,000 people, shows that a huge number of people agree that action must be take urgently.”
To find out more about the campaign, visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunpetition