Cat owners fear cost of living crisis will impact their pets

Cat owners are the most concerned about the cost of living and how it will impact the care they’re able to provide to their pets, according to a groundbreaking new report by the RSPCA and Scottish SPCA.

The groundbreaking inaugural report* – the Animal Kindness Index – is based on a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 UK adults**, which looks at the nation’s attitude towards animals.

The report found that while animal welfare is one of the top most important social issues people were asked about – with over two-thirds (69%) of the public describing themselves as ‘animal-lovers’ and 75% of people saying they’d carried out an act of kindness for animals in the past, the rising cost of living is threatening the care of our pets.

The report revealed that 72% of pet owners think the cost of living will have a negative impact on animals in the UK. The study also showed that cat owners seem to be most impacted and concerned about cost of living pressures.

Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy at the RSPCA, said: “It’s great that our research has confirmed we are a nation of animal lovers, however we cannot ignore the stark suggestion that the cost of living crisis is the biggest single threat to pets in the UK today.

“We are on the brink of an animal welfare crisis due to the rise in pet ownership during the pandemic, coupled with the cost of living pressures biting – especially those on lower incomes. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“We’re starting to see the knock-on effects of this as we, and other charities, predicted. Tragically we’re starting to see an increase in the abandonment of pets and growing numbers of cats and rabbits being rescued and coming into our care.”

Cat crisis

While 68% of pet owners said the cost of looking after their pet had increased in the last 12

months, this rose to 73% among cat owners. And although 28% of pet owners were worried about being able to care for their pet, this rose to 32% among cat owners, while nearly a fifth (19%) were worried about being able to afford to feed their pet, rising to 22% among cat owners.

The RSPCA is seeing a year-on-year rise in some pets coming into its care; and in the first five months of 2022, the charity took in 14% more cats than the same period in 2021.

RSPCA cat welfare expert Samantha Watson added: “With an estimated 12 million cats*** being kept as pets in the UK, it’s incredibly concerning to hear that so many cat owners are concerned about being able to care for their pets properly due to the rising cost of paying for things such as food and vet bills.

“We would urge anybody who is struggling to pay for their cat to reach out to friends or family for help, or to speak to their vet about possible options. There are also lots of organisations and charities, such as local food banks and rescue centres, who will help if they can.”