International Cat Day: RSPCA expects rise in unwanted kittens

This International Cat Day the RSPCA is shining a light on the importance of neutering to keep cats happy and health and tackle the cat overpopulation crisis.

Tigga

The internet is likely to be dominated by cat memes and cute pictures for International Cat Day today (Saturday 8 August) as the world celebrates our fantastic feline friends.

As a charity, the RSPCA wants to see every cat be as happy and healthy as possible but sadly the animal welfare organisation rescues more cats than any other pet.

Since lockdown began, the RSPCA has received more than 21,000 reports* about cats in need and currently has almost 1,000 cats in its rescue centres.

This is expected to increase over the coming months as the Coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult for cats to be neutered meaning more unplanned litters will be born.

The UK has been facing a cat overpopulation crisis for many years and already rescue centres see a surge in the number of cats and kittens coming into their care between April and September when the typical kitten season takes place. However, the fear is that a lack of neutering will now lead to a large increase in unwanted pregnancies.

Kittens, as cute as they are, add an extra burden to rescue shelters which already have thousands of cats waiting for homes.
Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the companion animals department at the RSPCA, said: “Saturday marks International Cat Day which aims to unite cat lovers from across the world in a celebration of cats. The RSPCA is delighted to be part of this day and, like all the collaborators, strongly believe that every cat should have the best life possible, no matter their situation and we share the desire to make every cat a happy cat.

“Unfortunately, one of the main issues we see as a charity is unneutered cats having litters of kittens which were unplanned and therefore unwanted. This can cause great heartache and headaches for owners who struggle not only to find good homes for them but also to care for the mum and kittens. Being pregnant and caring for kittens can also be very stressful for cats and making sure everyone stays happy and healthy requires a lot of time, knowledge and can also be very costly.”

This is why this International Cat Day we are sharing some facts around cat reproductive behaviour.

Did you know?

– Cats can reach sexual maturity and get pregnant at just four months of age – kittens can have kittens!

– Cats are seasonal breeders and only enter their reproductive cycle at a certain time of year. This generally begins in spring as daylight starts to lengthen.Female cats ‘queens’ will signal that they are ready to mate or ‘in heat’ by becoming more active and quite noisy!

– Females can be mated by more than one male within a short period of time and this includes relatives, even her father and brother.  Mating doesn’t take long between cats so it’s easy to be caught out.

– Cats don’t need to have a litter of kittens; there are no proven health or welfare benefits. There are, however, lots of health benefits to neutering, including a big reduction in the risk of getting FIV, the cat version of HIV/ AIDS.

– The best way to avoid unwanted litters and to protect your cat is to get him or her neutered at four months of age.

Betty

Rehome a rescue cat

Tigga is a five-year-old male tabby cat with FIV although he doesn’t let that hold him back. He is an affectionate boy and will make a lovely family pet for families with children who are secondary school age or older. He will also need to be an indoor cat due to his condition. RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in Hertfordshire.

Catalie Portman is a one year old female cat who came into RSPCA’s care in September 2019 as a young kitten. Her siblings have since been rehomed but Catalie is still looking. She can be nervous and timid but enjoys a fuss once she gets to know you. She also likes saying hello to the other cats in the cattery so could be rehomed to a home with a feline friend. She would be best suited to a home with families who have children of secondary school age or older. RSPCA Birmingham Animal Centre in the West Midlands.

Betty is just a few months old and came into RSPCA care with her brother Barney. They were both quite nervous at first but Betty is now becoming much more confident. They would benefit from a quiet home and would like their new owner to be around for a good part of the day to continue to socialise them. They need to be rehomed together. RSPCA Danaher Animal Home in Essex.

If you can offer a rescue cat a loving home visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet