06 May Leading cat charity reports 25% rise in unwanted kittens
As living costs spiral and kitten season looms, the UK’s leading feline charity fears it will see more abandoned cats as struggling pet owners face being unable to afford to keep their cats.
In the first quarter of 2022 Cats Protection has seen a 25% increase in the number of kittens being handed over to their adoption centres, such as the one in Downham Market, Norfolk.
Some regions are seeing larger increases in kitten relinquishment than others. Areas such as North London have seen an increase of 37% on the same period from 2021 to 2022.
Jane Clements, Head of Neutering at Cats Protection, said: “The top reasons are usually because they are stray, from an unwanted litter, or part of a multi-cat household. But this year we are also seeing people having to relinquish cats due to home evictions.
“Life is expensive and the impact of the cost of living crisis is really going to start showing in the later stages of the year*.”
There are thousands of unwanted cats in the UK already and Cats Protection fears that as the cost of living increases, they will see larger numbers of kittens being abandoned or given up for rehoming due to financial pressures.
Sam Taylor, Manager at Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre, said: “We are all tightening our belts to cope with rising costs, such as growing vet bills and food costs. But we have also seen how some people are faced with unimaginably heart breaking decisions.
“Recently we rescued a heavily pregnant queen who was still only young herself. From her condition and where she was found, it is likely she was abandoned by owners who simply couldn’t cope with the prospect of a litter of kittens. It was a very sad case that didn’t end well for the kittens, but we were able to nurse the young mother back to health and hopefully she will find a new home soon.
“We have seen an increase in people looking for advice or financial support with neutering or to discuss relinquishing their cats, which is always sad. It’s not a decision anyone enters into lightly. We provide what advice we can to support cat welfare and ownership, and our neutering helpline is an important part of our work in the community.”
As kitten season starts, the charity is reminding cat owners that there is neutering advice and often even financial support for cat owners keen to prevent unwanted litters.
Jane said: “Our objective is to minimise the number of unwanted litters, so we don’t see vast numbers of cats left on the street or without a home.”
Although cats can be neutered at any age, Cats Protection recommends that kittens are neutered at four months old or younger.
Cat owners may be eligible for support through Cats Protection’s means-tested neutering scheme. The average cost of neutering a cat ranges from £80 to £150. To see if you are eligible, call Cats Protection’s neutering helpline (Mon-Fri 9.30am-1pm) on 03000 12 12 12 or visit: www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering/financial-assistance
Keeping your cat happy and healthy is a top priority for pet owners, but the idea of huge vet bills can be stressful. One of the best ways to keep vet bills down is to invest in insurance.
Jane said: “Never underestimate the importance of planning for the future. Pet insurance might feel like just another expense that you can risk skipping, but sadly just hoping for the best can land you in hot water. Investing in good insurance means that if your pet does become ill and needs treatment, you can get a large portion of the fees covered. A monthly insurance fee is a much more cost-effective solution in the long term.”