Hundreds of cats need homes as number of unwanted pets grows
The RSPCA has launched an urgent appeal for adopters as the number of cats in private boarding soars to nearly 300 and the cost exceeds £8,000 per week, as the charity’s centres are full to bursting.
This year already, the animal welfare charity has received 9,748 calls about the number of dumped animals, compared to 8,551 in the first six months of 2022. Cats are some of the worst affected, with nearly 300 cats stuck in private boarding as they wait for a space in centres and branches.
Michelle Sidney, animal logistics manager at the RSPCA, said: “We currently have nearly 300 cats in private boarding – as our own centres are so full.
“There are a number of reasons we could be seeing such a huge increase in unwanted cats, and the cost of living crisis is at the heart of them.
“It is also kitten season and some people are not neutering their cats so there are a greater number of unwanted litters. Some people also don’t microchip their cats so when they are lost we can’t return them to owners – while the fall out from people buying cats during lockdown and no longer being able to care for them continues.
“It is heartbreaking that we are seeing this, and while we are doing everything we can to take in cats from some of these situations and rehome them, it is becoming a serious challenge. On top of an increasing cat intake, rehoming has slowed which has left us in a situation where we have cats coming in faster than we can find homes for them.”
In order to cope with the large number of cats coming into their care, the RSPCA is having to rely on private boarding more and more which comes at a huge price. Currently costs for private boarding this year, for cats alone, have risen to £8,287 per week and are rapidly increasing the longer the cats stay.
“We pay daily for private boarding, so the length a cat stays adds to the cost, and of course as more cats come in, the more boarding space we are having to use,” said Michelle. “We are desperate to get these cats into our centres and branches but they are all full to the brim already. Our national waiting list of 285 cats in private boarding and hospitals doesn’t even include the individual waiting lists that branches will have, so we are really facing an enormous challenge.
“The financial climate is unstable right now so adopting an animal is likely the last thing on many people’s minds and this is pushing rehoming to an absolute crisis point.”
The RSPCA is doing everything possible to help owners struggling with the cost of living crisis keep their pets in loving homes. The charity has committed £1.5million in extra funding to crisis measures; launched a new Cost of Living Hub, a dedicated telephone helpline, while their pet food bank partnerships continue to go from strength to strength.
Potential adopters can search for cats in need of homes by visiting the RSPCA Find a Pet page on their website. The RSPCA website also offers lots of useful advice about neutering cats to prevent unwanted litters as well as preparing owners for the new mandatory microchipping laws coming into effect in England, in 2024.
The Holdings – RSPCA Worcestershire and Mid Worcestershire branch
The Holdings, an RSPCA rehoming centre in Worcestershire, says it’s taken in more unwanted cats so far this year than at any other time since the shelter first opened seven years ago.
Almost 200 cats have already come through the doors of The Holdings Animal Centre in Kempsey in 2023, a rise of 32 percent compared to the same period last year.
Claire Wood from The Holdings, which is run by the RSPCA’s Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire Branch, said: “We’re seeing a record number of unwanted cats and the situation is showing no sign of slowing down. Together with our small team of fosterers we’ve currently got 48 cats and kittens in our care and we also have a long waiting list. We’re also getting calls on an almost daily basis from people who want to relinquish their pets, it’s heartbreaking.
“We’ve seen a slowdown this year in people wanting to adopt kittens, particularly pairs. The numbers we are seeing are exacerbated by people still not neutering their cats and it’s actually rare for us to have one come in that has already been neutered.”
The Worcestershire centre is appealing to anyone who is in a position to be able to adopt a cat to visit the centre’s website. A special appeal is being made for some of the longest staying residents who include:
Black long-haired Antionette, who is 13-years-old, was sadly handed over for rehoming after her owner had to go into care. Considering her age, she is in good health and is described as being very affectionate, but on her own terms. She has previously lived with a small dog, although staff don’t think she would tolerate other cats. Black cats tend to take longer to rehome and Antoniette has been at the centre since May.
Black and white Patch is another long-stay stray who came into the centre’s care from the Droitwich area in June. Believed to have been living on the streets for at least six months, the friendly and gentle-natured cat was suffering from a nasty injury to his right ear which had turned septic and sadly had to be removed. Patch is thought to be around three years old and is said to be a gentle and easy-going boy. He loves his food and is often found waiting for his next meal at the front of his pen. Such is Patch’s lovely nature, that he has also taken the centre’s kittens under his wing.
Leybourne Animal Centre
RSPCA Leybourne Animal Centre in Kent is also struggling to rehome the large number of cats coming into their care, with more and more being handed over to them every day.
Leybourne deputy manager, Angelina Allingham, said: “We are absolutely swamped with cats! They are coming in faster than we can find homes for them. Alongside our team of fosterers we’ve currently got 66 cats and kittens in our care. On site we have capacity for 55 cats, but we’re already caring for 46, so we are rapidly running out of room. It won’t be long until those spaces are filled. Our fosterers are caring for 20 cats at the moment so we are practically full to the brim with cats.
“It’s devastating that our intake is going up and up but rehoming has really slowed down. We just want to get these guys and gals into happy homes.”
The Kent based centre is appealing to anyone who is in a position to be able to adopt a cat to visit their website. Two of their long stay residents are Missy and Ruby, are urgently looking for new homes:
Two-year-old Missy is a sweet girl looking for a loving family who can make her feel safe and secure. Missy was found stray with an injured leg which unfortunately needed to be amputated. She gets around fine with three legs and is still very active, having a leg missing certainly doesn’t stop her!
Missy is an indoor cat and has a few food intolerances and would prefer to live with no other pets and in an adult environment, but she loves to play and would make a great companion for someone also living a quiet life.
Six-year-old Ruby came into RSPCA care after her owner sadly passed away. She isn’t at her most comfortable in a cattery environment and desperate to find a calm, quiet place to call home. She’s a little nervous, but more confident once she gets to know you.
She’s independent and would love a quiet outdoor place to be able to explore when she’s not at home.
RSPCA Danaher Animal Home
RSPCA Danaher Animal Home in Wethersfield, Essex is facing a similar challenge with cat rehoming and is now full to capacity with the number of cats on their waiting lists growing.
Craig Horsler, operational supervisor at Danaher Animal Home said: “We are full to capacity with cats. We are sadly struggling to find loving homes for the cats in our care and we now can’t take on any more. We have space for 46 cats at our centre and we have every single one of those spaces filled.
“We receive between four to six phone calls a day with owners wanting to give up their cats or kittens, it’s really a dire situation. We need people now more than ever to come forward as adopters.
“We have two long-stay cats in particular who we are keen to find a new home together. Lucky (female) and Squeak (male) have been with us for a long time now and we’d love to see them finally get a home.”
Lucky and Squeak are a sweet but sassy pair, looking for their perfect home, where they can build their confidence and explore the world together
Both Lucky and Squeak can be very fearful and they often become defensive when feeling unsure. As such, they will need a home with potential adopters who have experience with this kind of behaviour and who can offer them the calm and understanding home they require.
RSPCA East Berkshire Branch
The RSPCA in Berkshire is sharing in the struggle to rehome cats as the cost of living bites.
The East Berkshire branch of the animal welfare charity says it normally takes about a month to find new homes for the cats in its care, but many have now been waiting three times as long.
Lara Di Virgilio, rehoming coordinator for the RSPCA’s East Berkshire branch said: “We’ve seen a slowdown this year in people wanting to adopt and we suspect the cost of living is probably having an impact on people’s decision to take on a pet at this time.
“In the past, three or four weeks is usually the amount of time it takes to find one of our cats a loving new home. Now, it’s not unusual for some of them to be with us for 12 weeks or longer.”
Two of the branch’s longest staying residents are black and white cats, which always take longer to rehome than their tabby counterparts:
Sybil came from a property that had 15 cats back in May. She was completely unsocialised and has become much more tolerant of people since, but still prefers to do her own thing. She may never become a lap cat, but in the right home environment or a comfortable outdoor space such as a barn and given plenty of space to do her own thing, she will thrive. Sadly Sybil, who is about two-years-old, has been overlooked by potential adopters and had very few enquiries.
Two-year-old Buster enjoys people’s company, and if you give him strokes and ear scratches, he’ll nuzzle and purr with content. He’s described as a sweet, friendly cat but can get startled by unexpected noises and quick movements. He’ll suit a household where he feels loved and safe and needs to be the only pet in the household.
He enjoyed a good friendship with secondary school-aged children in his previous home, but didn’t get on well with the other resident cat. Sadly Buster has not had any interest since arriving in rescue at the end of April.
Heartbreaking figures released by the RSPCA have shown that reports of animals being beaten increased by 22% last year – with incidents peaking during the summer months, with three reported every minute. The charity has launched its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, to The RSPCA’s frontline rescuers, volunteers and a network of branches are working tirelessly to save animals this summer but we can’t do it alone. Please help cancel out cruelty, visit rspca.org.uk/cancel.