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Unwanted cat numbers hit all time high

13 November 2012
Media release from Cats Protection

In light of RSPCA figures released today that show a rise in unwanted animals, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity has announced it struggling to cope with the nation’s ever-growing cat crisis.

Cats Protection reports that the number of unwanted cats has hit an all-time high and adoptions have fallen to an all-time low. This has led the organisation to issue an emergency plea for people to come forward and offer a cat a home.

Figures from the charity’s national helpline currently show that for every one person enquiring about adopting a cat there are 10 people calling to give up a cat or report a stray. The ratio was one to three in 2009 and indicates a bleak future for cats.

As a snapshot to illustrate the effect the last few years have had on cats, here are comparative figures from July-September 2009 to the same period in 2012 (see notes to editors):
  • Adoption enquiries have fallen by 55% (1268 to 575)
  • Give up a cat and report a stray requests have increased by 34% (4204 to 5630)

And these figures are just the tip of the iceberg because they do not include calls to the charity’s 260 volunteer-run branches, which carry out 75 per cent of the organisation’s work, so the problem is far more severe than these figures indicate.

Kate Bunting, spokesperson for Cats Protection, said: “Since the UK entered recession we have received many more requests from people to take in their cats, with owners saying they are losing their jobs, their homes, or moving into rented accommodation.

“It can be very difficult for us to take in all these cats, especially at short notice, despite our 8,700 volunteers working round the clock to help as many cats as possible. Therefore, people should seek help as soon as they become aware of the need to give up their cat because this will give animal welfare organisations more time to respond.

“We currently have around 6,200 cats in care, with many more in need of help, so we desperately need people to come forward to adopt a cat.”

Owners adopting from Cats Protection have the peace of mind that their cat will have been examined by a veterinary surgeon, microchipped, vaccinated, neutered (if old enough) and will also come with four week’s free insurance.

Kate added: “We would also urge people to get their cats neutered as soon as possible because it is the most effective way of controlling numbers of unwanted cats and kittens. Cats Protection neuters around 190,000 cats and kittens per year and this is very important because cats are prolific breeders. Just one unneutered female cat could produce up to 18 kittens a year, or 20,000 descendants over five years, so owners who do not neuter their cats may unwittingly be contributing to more cats being abandoned in the future. Cats Protection may be able to assist with the cost of cat neutering to those on low incomes and information about our neutering initiatives can be found at www.cats.org.uk

Neutering offers many benefits for cats and owners alike as a neutered cat is less likely to spray, less likely to roam and also less likely to fight. Neutering also helps guard against disease as fighting cats are more at risk of life-threatening diseases that can be transmitted through biting and saliva.

Cats Protection recommends that cats and kittens are neutered from four months of age. Veterinary practices that neuter cats from four months of age can be found at www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering

To adopt a cat, or to find out more about neutering, please contact the charity’s national Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 or log on to cats.org.uk for details of your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre.

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For more information, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on media.office@cats.org.uk or 01825 741 911

Notes to Editors:
1. The period of July-September has been chosen for comparison as this is generally Cats Protection’s busiest time, so gives a good indication of the extent of the problem.
2. RSPCA figures were released today (31 October) through the Press Association, story embargoed until 1 November.
3. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading cat welfare charity and helps over 235,000 cats and kittens each year through a national network of 260 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres.
4. Cats Protection’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.
5. Cats Protection never puts a healthy cat to sleep.
6. Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SC037711 (Scotland). 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.