BATTERSEA Sees Record Number of Kittens and Puppies Born on Site This Year as Rate of Pet Neutering Plummets

Battersea has seen a record number of puppies and kittens born at its centres this year, the charity’s latest figures reveal.

In 2022, the leading animal welfare charity saw 133 kittens born across its three centres in London, Old Windsor and Brands Hatch – the highest figure in the past decade. This is compared to an average of just 82 in the 9 years previous.

By August 2022, the number of kittens born at Battersea had already surpassed 100 – more than twice the total amount of kittens born on site in the entirety of the previous year.

Meanwhile, dog births on site also saw a significant increase, with more puppies born in 2022 at Battersea’s centres than any of the previous 5 years. 29 puppies in total came into the world under the care of the charity’s dedicated staff this year, a figure almost double the previous yearly average of 16.

These figures come as the charity reports it is seeing a higher proportion of pets admitted into its care due to financial pressures on owners. In November this year, 15 per cent of dogs and 10 per cent of cats were brought into Battersea by owners who told them they could no longer afford to keep them or afford their vet bills. For dogs, this is up from 1 per cent the same month the previous year.

Commenting on the trends, Centre Manager Steve Craddock said: “Whilst it’s hard to say for certain, we suspect that in 2022 the social and economic climate has created the perfect storm for unwanted litters of kittens and puppies.

“First and foremost, with the ever-increasing cost of living, keeping household budgets tight is understandably a priority for pet owners. We suspect fewer people are getting their pets neutered, perceiving this to be a non-essential cost.

“However, we know the reality is quite different. Cats can reach sexual maturity and get pregnant at just four months old, leaving unneutered cats at a high risk of having unwanted kittens – which will be both time-intensive and costly to care for. Our research estimates the average yearly cost of owning a cat is now approximately £1,500, so any unplanned litters will come with a hefty price tag attached for the average family.”

Snowflake, who at just 9 months old unexpectedly fell pregnant with 4 kittens, is one of several cats taken into Battersea’s care due to unplanned pregnancies this year. Unable to afford the costs of caring for a small litter, her owner admitted mum and the four kittens – Spruce, Fir, Pine and Poinsettia – to Battersea in September. Just under 2 weeks old on arrival, they were cared for and socialised at the charity’s London site before eventually being old enough to be rehomed 2 months later.

Battersea advises neutering kittens between 9 and 12 weeks, and puppies from 6 months old depending on breed. As well as neutering any unneutered dogs or cats before rehoming them, the charity also contributes to community outreach to manage populations and improve the welfare of non-domesticated cats. Last year, working in collaboration with other organisations it successfully neutered 81 feral cats.

For more advice on pet neutering, please visit Battersea’s website advice here:

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