A new survey of 2,000 owners by Cats Protection has highlighted the severe impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having on cat owners, with nearly a third (29 per cent) saying they are struggling with the finances needed to support their cat.
One in eight cat owners (13 per cent) have or would cut down on their cat’s daily food to make cost savings and two-thirds (65 per cent) are worried that people will not be able to feed their cats this winter.
The findings come at a perilous time for Cats Protection, which helps around 166,000 cats and kittens each year. The charity has already seen the number of cats on its waiting lists grow by 20 per cent compared to this time last year, with fewer people adopting cats.
In response to the crisis, the charity has launched its “Feels like home” campaign which appeals for cat lovers to either become fosterers for the charity or support the charity with a donation. All funds raised will help provide temporary homes for cats this winter.
“No one wants to have to give up a beloved pet, but the cost-of-living crisis is having a disastrous effect on cats and their owners, says Peter Shergold, Cats Protection’s Head of Field Operations.
“Many are facing extreme choices such as rationing food or giving up their much-loved cat entirely. This winter could see an unprecedented number of cats and kittens being given up to charities or worse still, abandoned in the cold and left to fend for themselves.
“We do what we can to help people hold onto their pets, but we urgently need an army of cat fosterers to help us ensure no cat is without a place that feels like home this winter.
“No special equipment is needed to be a volunteer fosterer except a spare room in your house or outdoor space to house a cat pen. Cats Protection will provide the cat pen and all the other support needed including cat food, litter, toys and so on.
“We are particularly keen to hear from people in Essex, Kent, Northern Ireland, Suffolk and the West Midlands where we have the most pressing need for volunteer fosterers.”
Feels like Home is being supported by Dancing on Ice star and professional skater Frankie Seaman, who fosters unwanted kittens in Berkshire for Cats Protection.
She said: “I’ve gained such a feeling of intense satisfaction and happiness from volunteering for Cats Protection. One of my great successes was a kitten called Whisper who was born incredibly early; her eyes had not even formed behind her eyelids.
“It felt very special to hand-feed her and keep her warm until she was strong enough to join her litter mates and eventually find a new home.
“It’s very hard to say goodbye once you’ve developed a bond with a cat, but also so rewarding to know you’ve helped to turn their life around and send them to a happy home. “I’d very much recommend fostering to anyone and hope that any fellow cat lovers get in touch with the charity this winter.”
The charity also has a website advice page containing helpful money management tips, including how to obtain access to cat food banks and practical ways to reduce vet bills.
Cats Protection can also assist owners on limited incomes with the cost of neutering their pet cat. Please visit our cost of living page for more details.