The Scottish government has tackled the thorny issue of cat welfare by issuing a Draft Cat Welfare Code of Practice aimed at providing "basic information and guidance to those responsible for cats on how to care for them".
This exhaustive document contains essential info for those Scots who aren't feline-savvy, such as the revelations that "different cats will have different needs", inquisitive moggies may end up in tumble dryers and that nine lives won't save your pet from if it falls from your sixth-floor balcony.
There's more. Apparently, to keep your cat healthy, it is "essential to provide it with a nutritionally balanced diet from early in its life" (ie, meat, and plenty of it, with the occasional fish and a half-a-dozen songbirds a year).
Wannabe cat owners should also bear in mind that "some cats are naturally more confident than others" and "a cat that is not used to people may hiss, spit or lash out when cornered".
The draft code is now out for consultation to "ensure that the advice contained in the code is accurate, practical and realistic", but we can't help feeling that the taxpayer will be a little disappointed to find that it does not contain the essential advice that "cats will always wrap themselves around your feet when you're descending a steep flight of stairs bearing a large amount of crockery on a tray".
Oh yes, and if you prefer your animal companions to be of the canine persuasion, the Scottish government has spared no expense addressing the matter.
Since the Caledonian powers that be evidently take animal welfare pretty seriously, Scottish hamster owners among you are invited to lobby your goverment for a draft code explaining fully the benefits and potential pitfalls of the traditional hamster wheel, and how to minister to your companion's physical and spiritual needs. ®