According to Cats Protection’s Cats and Their Stats (CATS) Report 2022 released this week, over three-quarters of people who bought a cat in the last 12 months said they had purchased it online. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they bought a cat after falling in love with a photo or video online.
The survey found that Facebook has become significantly more popular as a source for buying a cat, despite Cats Protection’s Big Kitten Con campaign earlier this year which focused on the dangers of buying online.
Facebook now has a full-screen alert to warn users about buying cats online, but figures still show that 200,000 cats were bought on the platform in the last year.
Peter Shergold, Head of Field Operations at Cats Protection, said: “It may be tempting to buy cats or kittens through online listings, adverts, or social media, but you could be putting money in the pockets of unscrupulous breeders who don’t have cat welfare at heart. It’s very easy to be tricked by a cute photo but the animal may be in ill health or kept in poor conditions.
“Buying online or via social media encourages impulsivity – a few clicks and you could have a new cat within hours of purchase. We need to slow down and take the time to research, understand the long-term costs, and make sure we are fully prepared for all the commitments involved in cat ownership.”
Charities such as Cats Protection ensure that all cats or kittens adopted from them are microchipped, neutered, vaccinated, wormed, and have had a full health check before they can be rehomed.
The process of adoption also discourages impulse buying, as each new owner will be taken through a careful match-making process to ensure that, not only the cat and owner are a good fit for each other, but that all care requirements have been considered.
Behavioural psychologist and Cats Protection supporter, Jo Hemmings, said: “Impulse buying seems to be a growing trend and our reliance on online shopping only grew during lockdown. Sadly, pets don’t seem to be immune. Cute cat videos proliferate the internet so it’s very easy for inexperienced animal lovers to be tempted. But the danger of buying a pet on impulse is not being able to look after them properly or being blindsided by costs that you simply can’t meet.”
Cats Protection has recently seen a historic rise in the number of cats being relinquished and the charity is concerned that online impulse buying in a cost-of-living crisis could have further impact on its already oversubscribed waiting lists.
“The number of cats waiting to enter Cats Protection’s 34 Adoption Centres rose by 46% in July 2022 compared to July 2021,” Peter said. “We might be besotted with a cute cat online but the reality of ownership is very different to liking a photo on social media. New cat owners need to be more aware of financial commitments than ever before. We’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis that is only set to get worse so we have to be realistic about the bills that are involved. We feel it’s really important to make people aware of all the expenses that come alongside cat ownership, so they aren’t lured in by a cute photo and speedy online process, only to be caught off guard by costs.
“As many people can sadly attest to, having to relinquish a pet is a heart-breaking process and not a situation you want to find yourself in. So, before you rush to click and buy online, take your time, do lots of research, and consider the financial climate and how you will cover costs.”
Those who are looking to buy a cat can view the Kitten Checklist online to make sure they are buying from a reputable breeder.