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Revealed: The true cost of keeping the cat population down

23 August 2011
Revealed: The true cost of keeping the cat population down New figures released by Cats Protection show that neutering the nation’s cats costs millions of pounds, bringing to light the full extent of the UK’s cat population problem.

The charity had to spend a staggering £5.6m last year neutering over 176,000 owned, stray and feral cats across the UK - that’s one every three minutes.

However, the charity is warning this is not a long term fix and says the only way to ensure the population is brought under control is for owners to get their cats neutered earlier to prevent unwanted litters of kittens.

Ian MacFarlaine, Cats Protection’s Neutering Manager explained: “Cats are such prolific breeders that if we didn’t neuter them, we would have a population explosion that would end up with sick stray and abandoned cats roaming the streets. As a nation of animal lovers, I don’t think anyone would find this acceptable. “But we need help to get the cat population under control. Our research tells us that 94 per cent of cat owners don’t realise that cats can get pregnant as early as four months so we are working with the veterinary profession and the public to encourage cat neutering around four months of age, which is a significant move away from the traditional six months.”

TV presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming, who owns a cat called Tamby, supports Cats Protection’s neutering work. She said: “I was surprised to learn that a female cat can get pregnant as early as four months. It appears we are leaving neutering too late and missing a golden opportunity to reduce the numbers of unwanted kittens that are dumped and left to fend for themselves, or given to charities like Cats Protection who already have their hands full. I’d urge owners to get their cats neutered earlier.”

Ian agreed: “Ensuring cats are neutered earlier will prevent those surprise litters of kittens that most owners are unprepared for – and then have to hand over to animal welfare organisations, perpetuating the unwanted cat problem. Early neutering is proven to be safe and effective and avoids many of the potential complications of neutering later in life.”

In May of this year, a black cat called Hanna was handed to Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre. She had become pregnant at four months of age and her owner was unable to look after her anymore. Hanna later gave birth to three kittens, and fortunately Hanna and two of her kittens have since been found new homes.

Cats Protection has set up a register of vets that are helping the charity deliver its early neutering goal. Owners can log on to www.cats.org.uk/neutering to find the nearest veterinary practice participating in the scheme.

To seek advice on neutering or to request financial assistance to get your cat neutered if you are on a limited income, please call Cats Protection’s national Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 or log on to www.cats.org.uk 

For media enquiries, please contact Cats Protection’s media office on 01825 741 911 or email media.office@cats.org.uk 

Take a look at the Early Neutering cartoon

Notes to editors

1. Cats Protection’s Attitudes to Neutering research surveyed 1,000 cat owners during February 2011.
2. A photo of Jan Leeming is available from the media office. A photo of Hanna, the black cat mentioned above, is also available.
3. Cats Protection has produced a ‘Sex education for cats’ cartoon to promote early neutering. The cartoon is available as a JPEG, in both web and print formats. If you’d like a copy of the cartoon, please contact the Media Office as above.  
4. For further information about early neutering, please visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering or www.thecatgroup.org.uk 5. Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity, helped over 230,000 cats and kittens during 2010 through its national network of 257 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres.
6. 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. 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.