Mail on Sunday article - Setting the record straight
15 January 2014
Following publication of a misleading and factually incorrect article in the Mail on Sunday (12 January 2014) here is the full list of questions that will have been raised by the Mail article and our response to each one.
Does Cats Protection put down sick cats rather than paying vets’ fees?
Our cat-loving volunteers and staff never
put a healthy cat to sleep. This is a vital, underlying principle for the work we do as a charity that cares passionately about cats. On the very sad occasion when an unhealthy cat has to be put to sleep it is on the advice of a vet after they have assessed the cat’s illness or injury, overall quality of life and future prognosis.
Has Cats Protection reduced vaccine payments so cats are no longer immunised against bacterial infection?
Our vaccination policy has not changed and the vaccine we use is very effective and one of the UK's market leaders. We negotiated hard to get a better price to enable us to get more for our money and therefore enable us to help more cats.
Does Cats Protection receive £62 million a year in donations?
No, this is incorrect. In 2012 we received £37 million in donations.
Has Cats Protection reduced spending to frontline services by more than £3m?
We have been working hard to make savings to reduce expenditure whilst ensuring the level of care for the cats is maintained. The actual decrease in expenditure in 2012 was around £700k and the majority of this was due to efficiency savings.
Has Cats Protection closed seven centres because they were helping “too many” cats?
CP has never closed down a centre or branch because it was helping “too many cats”. We currently have 257 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres and very occasionally branches close for a variety of reasons including differences of opinion within the branch, lack of volunteers or lack of funds. In the last eighteen months, just two branches have closed and three were put on hold with a view to reopening as soon as they are able.
During the same period eight new branches were set up or are in the process of being set up. We also opened a new homing centre in Gildersome, Leeds, in November 2013 which aims to find homes for at least 500 cats and kittens every year.
Has CP reined back on its neutering programme?
In previous years our neutering budget had been overspent, so we had to make changes to keep it in line with the budget. In 2012 our neutering spend fell by £812,000 to £5 million and the number of cats neutered reduced by 18,000 compared to 2011. However we still neutered a total of 173,000 cats in 2012 which we believe is one of the highest amounts of any charity in the world. The budget was increased in 2013 and went up again this year to £6 million which is a 20 per cent increase over two years.
Has CP increased spending on staff to more than £12m a year – including more than £100,000 on wages for the Chief Executive?
Although total employment costs went up from £11.2m in 2011 to 12.03m in 2012, the increase of £776,000 was almost entirely made up of redundancy payments because, between October and December 2012, almost 100 staff accepted voluntary redundancy. This was done to reduce future salary costs by about £1.6m a year and was one of the many aspects of reducing expenditure we needed to do to ensure we operate as efficiently as possible.
The Trustees of Cats Protection set the pay levels of the charity’s senior executives, including the Chief Executive. Cats Protection’s Trustees are volunteers, several of whom also work in the charity’s branches, delivering its work with cats. Senior salaries are set with reference to the market rates for the skills required to be effective in the role. The skills and performance of the Chief Executive, Executive Directors and Heads of Departments have a fundamental impact on the effectiveness of the charity and its ability to meet its charitable objectives. The Trustees of Cats Protection avoid overpaying by setting senior pay at the median level with regard to equivalent roles within the Charity Sector.
Does CP still carry out home visits?
Last year we reviewed our rehoming processes and in particular our approach to home visits. We now take a more flexible approach meaning in some cases a home visit will be carried out, other times not - every adoption is looked at individually. Whether or not a home visit is carried out is decided by our branches on a local level because they are best placed to make those decisions. As well as home visits we are now also using a mixture of questionnaires, discussions with potential adopters and also technology such as Google maps to check for busy roads near potential adopters’ homes. Our aim is to match the right cat to the right home. This more flexible approach makes it as smooth and easy as possible for people to adopt a cat from us and also to ensure that we use our limited resources in the best possible way without compromising cat welfare. This brings us into line with other major animal charities. Since we've reduced the number of home visits the number of cats returned to us has not increased so this has not impaired good homing practice.