The RSPCA is facing a cat crisis as the charity cares for more cats than any other pet with more than 1,000 felines currently in its care.
Since lockdown*, the charity has taken 324 cats into its care, more than any other pet, and fears that the situation is set to get worse, as the traditional kitten season gets underway.
There is always an influx of youngsters at this time of year but lockdown means that it is harder for owners to neuter their pets and the charity’s experts fear they will see even more unwanted litters coming through its doors.
Animal rescuers at the charity have been designated key workers by the Government and the charity has launched an emergency appeal for vital funding which is needed to help the RSPCA’s frontline staff continue this crucial work across England and Wales.
Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the RSPCA’s companion animal department, said: “We are currently caring for more cats than any other pet throughout the Coronavirus crisis. Every year, the scale of the cat overpopulation problem becomes even more apparent from May to September when most cats are born as the RSPCA is often overwhelmed with kittens. The kitten season this year will continue despite COVID-19 and so the charity is bracing itself for even more cats.”
Since the start of lockdown, there have been 6,630 incidents reported to the charity’s hotline about cats with the most incidents in Greater London (870), the West Midlands (453), Greater Manchester (364) and West Yorkshire (326).
The charity is currently caring for 1,013 cats (as of May 13) which is more than any other pet in its care.
Last year, there were 108,190 incidents reported about cats with the most recorded in August (11,371), September (10,718) and May (10,693) during the kitten season.
Some of the cats the charity is currently caring for include:
A pregnant cat who was abandoned in Sheffield after their owners moved away is being fostered by Inspector Leanne Booth. The kittens are now four weeks old and have been joined by a single three-week-old kitten Luca (pictured above) who was found under some decking on his own at just a few days and has been hand-reared by Leanne.
A mother cat and her three kittens were rescued by the RSPCA on Monday (April 20) after a member of the public found them abandoned in a carrier bag in Salford. Luella and her kittens, who are about 10 days old, are now being cared for by the RSPCA Manchester and Salford branch.
A six-month-old stray cat who was found by a member of the public struggling to give birth in Hyde in Greater Manchester was rescued by Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Jessica Pierce on 13 May. Ruby was taken straight to the vets for an emergency c-section and delivered five kittens but sadly three of them passed away. As Ruby is so tiny herself she couldn’t give birth naturally and although her and her surviving kittens are recovering well, the kittens may need to be hand reared if she does not show an interest in them as their mum is just a kitten herself.
Two newborn kittens were rescued by Inspector Jo Daniel in Somerset on April 15 after they were found outside a Morrisons distribution centre. The inspector has been handrearing the kittens, named Scrumpy and Marmalade, at her home throughout the lockdown with a little help from her family.
Sam added: “Our frontline officers will continue to rescue as many cats as we can and our animal centre staff, hospitals and branches will carry on caring for the many cats coming into our care throughout the crisis. We rely on donations from our generous supporters to carry out this vital work and need their support now more than ever as our services become stretched to the limit.
“We believe neutering cats from four months old will help tackle the cat overpopulation problem the UK faces. This will reduce the amount of unwanted and unexpected litters of kittens that are born and sadly end up in rescue centres. We understand that many owners may not be able to get their pets neutered at the moment as understandably vets are prioritising emergencies in the face of Covid-19 and restricting other procedures. It is important to follow your vet’s guidance and understand if they cannot neuter your pet at this time. We would urge anyone with an unneutered female cat to keep them indoors. If you have a male/female pair or really can’t keep your cat inside, do call your vet to discuss options.”
For more information, visit The RSPCA website.
*March 23 to May 4, 2020.