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8th March 2023

Cat owners are cutting back on pet essentials such as vet care, vaccinations, and insurance as a result of the cost of living crisis, according to new research from Cats Protection.

The leading feline welfare charity is seeing a rise in people giving up their cats for financial reasons and is warning there could be an animal welfare crisis as a direct result of the cost of living.

Cats Protection has launched an online hub to support owners in need with a raft of information including how to look after your cat on a budget and how to access help with costs.

One in three* cat owners surveyed said they feel “greatly impacted” by the cost of living crisis, while nearly one in five (18%) said they were spending less on vet services, including missing essential vaccinations or not microchipping their pet.

Meanwhile, nearly one in three (31%) of cat owners said they are concerned about how they would pay emergency vet bills if their cat became sick or injured, with nearly one in five (18%) concerned about paying for routine vet treatment. The charity says this represents tens of thousands of cats whose welfare could now be at risk.

A quarter of cat owners (25%) said they are spending less on pet insurance because of the cost of living and 17% are concerned about paying for insurance in the future.

Alison Richards, Head of Clinical Services at Cats Protection said: “We know the cost of living is having a huge impact on people across the country, with many cat owners making difficult choices to make ends meet. Cutting back on insurance or vet treatment can ultimately lead to higher costs if a cat becomes injured, gravely unwell, or even pregnant.

“We’ve launched a new information hub with lots of tips and ideas for looking after your cat on a budget, with everything from how to make free cat toys to how to access help with costs such as neutering. We want to provide access to information and resources that can help every owner look after their cat.”

Cat owners also reported cutting back on spending, with more than half spending less on eating out or takeaways, days out, clothes, drinking and holidays. The survey also showed that 60% of owners feel their cat is a source of comfort to them during a difficult time.

Adoption centres are also seeing a rise in people giving up their cats for financial reasons.

Nicola Murray, deputy manager at Cats Protection’s Harrow Homing Centre, said: “The cost of living is having a greater impact on animal welfare than Covid. We’ve got desperate people turning up on our doorstep every week and our waiting lists for people wishing to give their cat up are several weeks long. People need more information and support for managing their cats during this time as no one should have to give up a much loved pet during a time of crisis.”

*Survey of 3,011 cat owners in the UK, conducted by Basis on behalf of Cats Protection. Fieldwork completed in December 2022.

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