Leading cat charity reports 25% rise in unwanted kittens

With the cost of living spiralling, an increasing number of pet owners can no longer afford to keep their beloved animals.

In the first quarter of 2022, Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline charity, has seen a 25% increase in the number of kittens being handed over to their adoption centres*. As kitten season starts, the charity is offering neutering advice to prevent litters that can’t be cared for.

Jane Clements, Head of Neutering at Cats Protection, said: “The top reasons we are seeing for kitten relinquishments are because they are stray, from an unwanted litter, or part of a multi-cat household. This year we are also seeing people having to relinquish cats due to home evictions. Life is expensive at the moment and the impact of the cost of living crisis is really going to start showing in the later stages of the year*.

“Our objective is to minimise the number of unwanted litters, so we don’t see vast numbers of cats left on the street or without a home.”

Some regions are seeing larger increases in kitten relinquishment than others. Areas such as North London have seen an increase of 37% from 2021 to 2022.

There are thousands of unwanted cats in the UK already and Cats Protection fears that as the costs rise, they will see larger numbers of kittens being abandoned or given up for rehoming due to financial pressures.

Sue Dobbs, Centre Manager at Cats Protection’s Bridgend Adoption Centre, said: “Every year our vet costs run into tens of thousands of pounds, and this year already more cats than ever before have arrived at our door needing vet care. We are also seeing more cats admitted with chronic health conditions. Our vet bills for treatment only, not including neutering, have increased by 60% between last year and this year.

“Pets can be very expensive to own and it’s easy to suddenly find yourself at the business end of an unexpected vet bill. For example, we have seen cats like Bunny, who was heavily pregnant when she was handed over to our adoption centre. She gave birth to four beautiful kittens but developed a hole in her abdominal wall during labour causing her intestines to herniate through. She needed emergency surgical repair but thankfully has now recovered from her ordeal. She gave birth to three beautiful kittens Bonnet, Bloom, and Benjamin and all three are doing well.”

Neutering is an operation to prevent female cats from getting pregnant and male cats from making females pregnant. Although cats can be neutered at any age, Cats Protection recommends that kittens are neutered at four months old or younger.  Sue explains: “Some of the best advice we can give to owners who are worried about their financial situation is to neuter their cat, it’s a simple step to ensure you don’t end up with a cat going through a difficult and expensive pregnancy and then several kittens to pay for as well.”

Cat owners may be eligible for support through Cats Protection’s means-tested neutering scheme. The average cost of neutering a cat ranges from £80 to £150. To see if you are eligible, you can call Cats Protection’s neutering helpline (Mon-Fri 9.30am-1pm) on 03000 12 12 12 or visit their website: www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering/financial-assistance

Jane Clements, Head of Neutering at Cats Protection, added: “Keeping your cat happy and healthy is a top priority for pet owners, but the idea of huge vet bills can be stressful. We also advise those who are worried about money to seriously consider investing in pet insurance. It might feel like just another expense that you can risk skipping, but sadly just hoping for the best can land you in hot water.

“Investing in good insurance means that if your pet does become ill and needs treatment, you can get a large portion of the fees covered. A monthly insurance fee is a much more cost-effective solution in the long term.”

For more about pet insurance here.