The RSPCA urges people to do their research before taking on a pet as figures show there has been a huge spike in people looking to buy or rehome kittens this year.
July 2020 saw Google searches for ‘Kittens near me’ increase sixfold compared to the same period last year (a 667% increase). During lockdown, there has also been an 188% increase in searches for kittens within just a few months.
There has also been more than 45,000 incidents relating to cats reported to the RSPCA so far this year (up to 29 September). The RSPCA currently has 878 cats in its care which is more than any other pet rescued.
Many people have found they now have more time on their hands during lockdown, so it is unsurprising that many have sought a pet to keep them company.
However, the RSPCA would always urge anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider whether they can care for them in the long-term – and not just for a pandemic.
Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, said: “It’s fantastic that so many people are interested in bringing a cat into their home this year. However, with such high increases in people searching for kittens online, it’s important that prospective owners are doing their research and not buying a kitten on impulse. This means making sure they have the time, money and resources to care for a cat for the rest of their lives but also ensuring that if buying a kitten, they are buying a healthy and happy kitten from a responsible breeder.
“It’s true that we see much higher cases of puppy farms than unscrupulous kitten breeders, but it does happen which is why it’s so important to do your research and make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller.
“Sadly, we do see cases of cats coming into our care who have been bought without the correct vaccinations, care or attention and the results can not only be devastating for the cats themselves, but also the new owners who have to provide the time and cost it takes to look after these very poorly kittens.
“This is why the RSPCA and other cat charities have come together to create The Kitten Checklist to provide vital information, such as ensuring you see the kitten with its mum and siblings in the place where they were bred, and peace of mind for anyone bringing a kitten into their home.”
This Adoptober, the RSPCA is encouraging people to adopt a rescue cat instead.
During the lockdown, there has been a 114% increase in the amount of people searching for cats to adopt on the RSPCA’s Find a Pet page compared to the previous year.
Alice added: “It’s great to see so many people are looking to adopt a rescue cat with more than a million people visiting our cat Find a Pet page during the pandemic.
“We are braced for a kitten season boom next year as routine neutering procedures had to be put on hold during the lockdown. This means that whilst the UK is already facing a cat overpopulation crisis, we may now see even more unplanned litters of kittens. If you’ve got a kitten during lockdown, it’s so important to get them booked into your vets for a spay or a snip.
“Kittens can get pregnant from just four months old and there may be a longer wait than usual at some vet practices due to the pandemic, so it’s important to get them booked in early. We believe neutering from four-months-old can help tackle the overpopulation crisis and ensure we don’t see more unwanted litters being born and putting extra strain on rescue centres like the RSPCA.”
Under the current Covid rehoming protocols anyone interested in fostering or adopting an animal from the RSPCA should visit the website to see which animals are available near you and should check with their local centre for the current process applicable in that area.
Due to the amount of interest we are receiving and the impact of Covid on our staffing levels, please bear with us as our centres are very busy at this time. To find out more please visit www.rspca.org.uk/coronavirus.
To offer an RSPCA rescue cat a new home please visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet to find your purr-fect match.