Double dip recession spells trouble for cats

01 May 2012
Media Release from Cats Protection

Following news last week that the UK has slipped back into recession, a national cat charity has issued an urgent appeal as more cats are being given up than ever before.

Figures released today by Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity, show an ever decreasing number of people coming forward to adopt cats, while the number of people needing to give up a cat or report a stray is on the rise.

This is the worst it has been for the charity since the start of the recession, which has led to this plea for help.

“I cannot emphasise enough how serious this is,” said Peter Hepburn, Cats Protection’s Chief Executive. “The recession has been disastrous for the UK’s pets and, following the latest news of the UK entering a double dip recession, sadly the situation for cats shows no signs of improving.”

Queries to the charity’s national helpline from 2009 to 2011 show:
  • The number of people wanting to adopt a cat fell by 31 per cent (5,016 to 3,471)
  • The number of people wanting to give up a cat increased by 14 per cent (8,308 to 9,459)
  • The number of people reporting stray cats increased by 7 per cent (6,924 to 7,426)

“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg because our 260 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres all receive calls directly, which means the problem is much larger than we can demonstrate here. Our volunteers and staff regularly report that they are asked for help by owners who have to give their cats up for financial reasons, so I understand how tough it is for people at the moment.”

These latest figures raise serious concerns for animal welfare and are backed up by a recent University of Bristol study which estimated that 131,070 cats entered the care of UK welfare organisations during 2009, the first full year since the onset of the recession. Over 40 per cent of these were cared for by Cats Protection.

The charity has over 8,700 volunteers working round the clock to help as many cats as possible but with the number of unwanted cats increasing and the number of people calling to adopt cats dropping, the charity has been left with a backlog of cats in need of homes.

Cats Protection would like to urge people to contact them as soon as they become aware of the need to give up their cat because this will allow their branches and centres to prioritise and help as soon as they are able.

To adopt a cat, please call Cats Protection’s helpline on 03000 12 12 12 between 9am - 12.30pm or 2pm - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Alternatively, log on to www.cats.org.uk to find contact details for your local branch.

Every cat adopted from the charity will have been examined by a veterinary surgeon, microchipped, vaccinated, given flea and worm treatments, neutered if old enough and will also come with four week’s free pet insurance.

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For more information, or a case study, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on media.office@cats.org.uk or 01825 741 911

Notes to Editors:
1. Figures sourced from Cats Protection’s national Helpline January – December 2009 and January - December 2011.
2. Interview opportunities with Peter are available on request from the Media Office.
3. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading cat welfare charity and helps over 235,000 cats through a national network of 260 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres.
4. Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SCO37711 (Scotland).  The charity’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.
5. Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity in all published material.
6. Number of cats and dogs in UK welfare organisations, C C Clark, T Gruffydd-Jones, J K Murray, University of Bristol, published online first Veterinary Record, 28 March 2012.
7. The University of Bristol is consistently ranked among the leaders in UK higher education.  Research-intensive and with an international reputation for quality and innovation, the University has 17,000 students from over 100 countries, together with more than 5,500 staff. In terms of the number of applications per undergraduate place, Bristol is one of the most popular universities in the country.

The University was founded in 1876 and was granted its Royal Charter in 1909. It was the first university in England to admit women on the same basis as men. It is located in the heart of the city from which it grew, but is now a significant player on the world stage as well as a major force in the economic, social and cultural life of Bristol and South West England.