campaigning: get pets off of gumtree;

My Scooter-cat is quite mad. I have suspected as much for a while, but over the past few weeks she has been coming into the bedroom at approximately 5:40am every morning and picking a fight with my bras right where they hang on the handle of my wardrobe door. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of misguided feminist protest (bras are advisable, if not necessary, when you are a storm in an E-cup) or if cats are genetically predisposed to having a problem with underwear. Either way it’s annoying, particularly because she usually wins.

I love these cats, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to anybody. My home life would be pretty dull without them, even if my floors would be cleaner and my laundry undisturbed. While I was never not an animal lover, it seems as if having pets of my own has pushed me over the edge into full-on crazy cat lady. I sob when I hear of bad things happening to animals, and cannot imagine what sort of person it would take to be deliberately cruel.

But I’ve struggled with the petition to prevent the classified advertising site Gumtree from allowing pets for sale, despite the awareness-raising done by the Glasgow branch of the Cats Protection League on Facebook and the widely reported-on story of Harvey the kitten. The CPL rescued Harvey from a Gumtree seller who was advertising him as “having broken legs but being fine”, although he had never seen a vet. It turned out that the kitten had been born with no bones in his front legs due to a genetic condition. The CPL reported the breeder to the SSPCA, who were apparently told that the mother cat would be spayed, but last week they found that the same seller was selling kittens from the same mother on the site for £200.

Obviously this is a horrendous story, but the reason I have struggled is because we found Biggie and Scooter on Gumtree and I know a few people who have done the same. There are currently 128 adverts for cats, kittens and litters of kittens on the site, many of which include sob stories about moving home or are simply looking to rehome newly-born kittens. And the majority of these ask for a fee of some kind, which they generally attribute to discouraging people who aren’t genuine. Now you’d have to be less of a cynic than I to believe that none of these advertisers were motivated by money, but there are undoubtedly plenty of genuine people there too: the guy we got the kits from was asking for £60, but when we saw the amount of money he had so clearly spent on food, toys and accessories which he gave us to take away we upped it a little.

I think what has swayed me is the fact that Gumtree makes it so easy for unscrupulous people to list animals for sale, and doesn’t charge them anything for doing so. Sites like eBay stopped allowing people to sell animals a long time ago, and traditional forms of advertising such as local newspapers and those boards you get at the back of supermarkets involve either some form of expenditure or some kind of effort. This won’t always help those people who need to rehome their pets because they simply cannot afford to look after them, but I’m of a mind that if the site wants to allow people to advertise animals, then at the very least they must employ some sort of moderator to pre-approve adverts and prevent exploitative or unscrupulous sales.

You can find out more, and sign the Gumtree – Stop Allowing Pets for Sale petition, here.