Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Backstage at the Manifesto for Cats launch

Last night we launched our Manifesto for Cats at a parliamentary afternoon tea reception in the House of Commons. The public were consulted on our 10 Manifesto priorities last May which, if delivered, would create a better world for cats.

The launch was attended by an audience of 40 MPs and Lords, professional organisations and other animal welfare charities. Here’s a lowdown of the launch as it happened:

1pm: The team are carrying a giant cardboard cut-out of a kitten across the bridge on our way to the Houses of Parliament!

Walking across Westminster Bridge
Carrying a disguised kitten cardboard cut-out across Westminster Bridge
1.15pm: We start making our way through the security gates.

1.30pm: We get a cheeky snap of security guards with some of our handmade cat-themed iced biscuits!

Security guards with cat-themed biscuits
The cat-themed biscuits are a hit!
1.45pm: We have a sit down in the public café surrounded by all our equipment. Time for a cuppa and to check that we’ve got everything!

1.55pm: We spot TV vet Marc Abraham, Marisa Heath from the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) and Vicky Craighill from the PDSA in the café.

3pm: We start making our way across to the Strangers' Dining Room. We’ve got a lot of boxes and cases to lug over!

3.15pm: We begin setting up the room. A platform is built for our huge cardboard kitten, which we’ll later be asking our guests to pose with to have their photo taken. Manifesto promotional banners are set up and TV monitors and sound equipment are tested.

Setting up the Strangers' Dining Room
Setting up the Strangers' Dining Room
3.35pm: Guests start arriving and queueing up outside the room.

4pm: We open the doors to all MPs and guests. Away we go!

4.15pm: Neil Parish MP and Angela Smith MP arrive and have their photos taken with Cats Protection’s CEO Peter Hepburn and Chair Heather McCann.

Neil Parish MP CEO Peter Hepburn at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Neil Parish MP and Cats Protection CEO Peter Hepburn; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
Heather McCann and Angela Smith MP at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Cats Protection Chair Heather McCann and Angela Smith MP; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
4.30pm: Our host Neil Parish MP offers a warm welcome to the reception.

4.32pm: Heather McCann thanks our guests for coming and states that our Manifesto is “not just Manifesto for Cats. It is a Manifesto for people.”

Heather McCann at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Heather explains why we need to speak up for cats; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
4.35pm: We play a short Manifesto video featuring cat owners explaining why we need to speak up for cats. Watch the video here.

4.40pm: Angela Smith MP and Lord de Mauley offer responses to the video and the Manifesto for Cats.

Lord de Mauley at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Lord de Mauley delivering his response to the Manifesto for Cats; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
4.52pm: Heather McCann invites everyone to network and have their photo with our giant kitten!

5.05pm: The room is bustling!

5.15pm: A queue begins to form by the six-foot cardboard kitten; it certainly is a talking point!

5.25pm: Felix Burrows, our young star in the Manifesto video has his photo taken with the cardboard kitten.

Felix Burrows at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Felix Burrows; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
5.40pm: We’re handing out loads of goody bags containing our very popular cat-themed biscuits made in the kitchens at the National Cat Centre!

Cat-themed biscuits at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Cat-themed biscuits; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
Cat-themed cupcakes
Cat-themed cupcakes; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
5.45pm: Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow strokes the giant cardboard kitten’s chin while having her photo taken.

Nicky Trevorrow at the Manifesto for Cats launch
Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow; photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge
6pm: Guests start to vacate the room and the event ends.

What a fantastic afternoon! We hope that the launch of the Manifesto for Cats can help to change outdated laws and policies to protect cats. Our priorities include calls for tighter regulation of the licensing of air guns and banning the use of snares – both of which cause unimaginable pain and suffering, through injury and death, to cats on a daily basis. We're also calling for measures to control the breeding and sale of kittens to drive out unscrupulous breeders and prevent the growing number of unwanted cats.

Want to get involved? You can make a real difference by writing to your MP and urging them to support our Manifesto for Cats. Find out more and read the full Manifesto document at

Photos of MPs and stakeholders who attended the launch are available to view on our Facebook page.