An Angus woman’s campaign to neuter all domestic cats – and protect their wild cousins – will be discussed in the Scottish Parliament next week.
Dr Ellie Stirling launched a petition calling for measures to control the soaring pet population and safeguard the existence of the Scottish wildcat.
It has attracted 1,344 signatures and will be considered by the public petitions committee at Holyrood on Thursday December 7.
The BBC television programme Landward will also feature Dr Stirling’s efforts to curb the “cat population crisis” this Friday.
Dr Stirling has now written to all MSPs asking them to get behind her campaign.
She said: “Failing to choose positive action now will leave Scotland on the wrong side of history.
“Despite free neutering being available, a minority of cat owners (13% in Scotland) still keep their cats un-neutered.
“That’s producing new cats at a rate that more than doubles the pet cat population every four years, at a time when the number of homes available is level or decreasing.”
She said the problem meant hundreds of thousands of displaced cats and surplus-to-requirements kittens were spreading into the countryside, industrial estates, back streets and gardens where they endure atrocious conditions.
“Many awful things happen to cats and kittens living rough,” she said.
“Few of us witness their suffering and deaths.
“If they survive, their kittens become feral, suffer poor nutrition, diseases, persecution and early death.”
Dr Stirling’s petition seeks for all owned cats to be neutered, microchipped and registered.
A licensed exemption scheme would be set up to enable responsible breeding of owned cats by appropriate persons.
This, she said, would help to stop the suffering of domestic cats and save the Scottish wildcat.
Numbers of the protected species are dwindling and interbreeding is regarded as the biggest threat to the wildcat population.
Dr Stirling, from Forfar, has been working full-time as a volunteer on environmental projects, including with Scottish Wildcat Action.
She has returned more than 4,000 neutered feral cats to the wild in the past 20 years and recently started a campaign called Cats Liberation.