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Cat ownership on the rise

15 November 2021
Cat ownership on the rise

More than one quarter (26%) of households in the UK own a cat compared to 23% in 2020, according to Cats Protection’s second annual survey of cat owners, Cats 2021. There are now an estimated 10.8 million owned cats across the UK, an increase of 600,000 cats in the past year.
Wales recorded the highest levels of cat ownership, with 32% of households owning a cat, compared with 27% in England and 20% in Scotland.

Cats Protection believes the Covid-19 pandemic has played a significant role in the increase in cat ownership during the past year, with a considerable proportion of survey respondents acquiring a cat, or another cat, in the past 12 months. Seven per cent of respondents said they had acquired a cat as a direct result of the pandemic.

The pandemic has affected how people acquire cats, with the percentage of cats bought (either from a specialist breeder or elsewhere such as a pet shop) increasing versus adoption. Twenty-one per cent were bought (not from a specialist breeder) and 7% from a specialist breeder. One quarter of cats acquired during the past year were adopted from rescue, rehoming or animal shelter organisations, such as Cats Protection. A further 19% were adopted from a friend, family member or neighbour; 7% were strays acquired by the household; and 6% were kittens of existing household cats. The remainder were acquired through a variety of channels.

Of the cats that were bought, 68% were found online, a route that Cats Protection says is not without its risks. “It is shocking how easy it is for unscrupulous sellers to operate online and put profit before kitten welfare,” says Deborah Meaden, entrepreneur and animal welfare campaigner. “Consumers may sadly find themselves duped into purchasing kittens which are too young or sick, leaving them with high vet bills or, in some cases, a kitten which tragically dies. Cats Protection’s work with government and extensive advice to consumers is vital to ensure potential cat owners get a healthy and happy pet and stamp out the mis-selling of pets.”

Information on how to purchase a kitten safely is available here

Cats Protection’s Winter Campaign, Eight Precious Weeks, will launch later this month and will highlight the issue of kittens being sold when they are sick and underage, when they should be getting essential nutrients from their mother. Watch this space!