Neutering and spaying of cats will soon be mandatory in the Brussels Region

Neutering and spaying of cats will soon be mandatory in the Brussels Region

12 May 2017

The government of the Brussels Region yesterday approved at first reading a proposed new law which would make mandatory the neutering and spaying of all cats in the Brussels-Capital Region as of 1 January 2018. GAIA applauds this measure initiated by the Animal Welfare Secretary of State, Bianca Debaets, which shows that the Brussels Region, like its neighbour Wallonia, is ready to attack the problem of feline overpopulation at its root. “This is excellent news, giving hope that the tragic end suffered by thousands of cats every year will be resolved,” says GAIA’s Director, Ann De Greef. “We very much hope that the Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts, will follow the example of the other two regions very soon.”

Among cats, 1 plus 1 equals 6, and this sometimes several times a year! Thus, “letting Nature take its course” amounts to bringing 36 more cats into the world in the space of 16 months, who more often than not wind up killed. In addition, overcrowded shelters can no longer cope with the influx of abandoned or rescued cats. For example, of the 4084 cats and kittens collected in 2016 in the Brussels region, 1425 (38%) were euthanized because of limited shelter space and lack of adopters. Furthermore, these tragic statistics do not take into account all the unwanted kittens who are coldly “disposed of” by private individuals.

In order to spare tens of thousands of animals a life of misery and premature death, a single solution was called for: the adoption of a law requiring the neutering and spaying of pet cats. Thankfully, the government of the Brussels Region finally heeded the outcry from animal welfare associations and actors on the ground, in particular following a positive advice submitted this year by the Brussels Animal Welfare Council, to which GAIA fully contributed as a representative.

Thus, in practice, all cats born after 1 January 2018, the date of entry into force of the future law, should be neutered or spayed. However, a transitional period of 6 months is provided for cats born before 2018 until 30 June 2018. The text also specifies exceptions for professional and occasional breeders who expressly request it. The draft decree will still have to be presented to the Conseil d’Etat before finally being submitted for adoption at second reading to the Council of Ministers.

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