I feel strongly about the welfare of all animals and it is vital that we maintain the highest standards of animal welfare. Ministers are serious about improving welfare in breeding establishments and at the point of sale, so are reviewing the laws that regulate dog breeding and pet sales, including of cats.
One proposal by the government is to apply specific welfare conditions to pet vendors, which they must meet in order to obtain a licence. These include a requirement that animals are not sold too young: for mammals this is before they are or should have been weaned, which for cats is likely to be at or below eight weeks. Another would remove the licence exemption for those in the business of selling kittens bred from the family's pet pedigree cat. I believe both proposals have some important advantages.
There can of course be unscrupulous people who exploit the desire for pets, but all captive animals are protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This act outlaws causing deliberate harm to any animal.
I would therefore encourage anyone who believes that kittens are being treated poorly by a pet shop to report their concerns to the local authority or the police, which have the power to take action to safeguard their welfare.