Switzerland moves to ban cat fur trade

Switzerland's government has promised to draw up legislation to end the country’s trade in cat hides. Though it forbids the import of cat furs, Switzerland is the only country in Europe not to have outlawed the practice completely.


The Swiss economy minister has promised to create legislation to end the country’s trade in cat hides.Speaking to Switzerland’s upper house of parliament on Thursday, Doris Leuthard promised that a new animal protection law would contain legislation to end the export and trade in cat hides, and would also contain a similar measure to protect dogs.


Currently, only the import of cat furs is illegal in Switzerland, the only country in Europe not to have outlawed the practice completely. But hunters and licenced farmers are allowed to kill feral cats and stray cats who are more than 200 metres from their homes. An old wife's tale that cat fur soothes rheumatism is thought to be behind whatever demand exists  - although just how much that is true remains a topic of debate.Federal Veterinary Office spokesman Marcel Falk told Swiss media that “as far as we’re concerned, there are only a couple dozen pelts produced every year.”  Animal rights campaigners dispute this, and say the real figure is much higher.


Tomi Tomek, co-founder of welfare organisation SOS Chats (SOS Cats), has waged a well-publicised campaign to change the law.“I really do think this ban will go through.It has a lot of support,” she told FRANCE 24. Her organisation has now collected 273,000 signatures to support the legislation.


Tomek went undercover with Swiss television to uncover the real extent of the trade in Switzerland.“We found 22 tanneries preparing cat hides in Switzerland, mostly in German-speaking areas.”She also went into fur shops where, she says, cat skins were available even if they weren’t on display.Although she’d been aware of the trade for some time, Tomek says she had no proof of it, and it was only when some members of her welfare organisation spotted some cat hides on display in a fur shop in the Swiss city of Bienne that this campaign kicked off.


Petitions of more than 100,000 signatures trigger a referendum in Switzerland, so after the government draws up the legislation, it will go to voters for their final say. 

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