Paws for thought over cat crisis

The RSPCA has taken nearly 12,000 cats into its care this summer as the cat crisis reached its peak.

Every summer, centres and branches end up bursting with cats and kittens as a result of unplanned litters born at this time of year and unwanted older animals.

This can lead to cats and kittens being abandoned in their droves, ending up in rescue centres.

5 Kits(02)

Across England and Wales from May 1 to September 24, there were 11,313 cat abandonment complaints reported to the RSPCA.

The RSPCA is urging responsible pet owners to get their cat neutered from four months old to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Alice Potter, RSPCA cat welfare expert, said: “They may look cute but having a litter of kittens to look after is hard work and costs money. Sometimes the reality of looking after them does not live up to the expectation and it is times like this when we see so many kittens abandoned.

“From being tied up in plastic bags, dumped in boxes, left on a bus, or thrown out with the rubbish, the RSPCA has sadly seen too many kittens abandoned this summer.

“There is a cat overpopulation crisis facing the UK and our centres struggle with the demand especially during the summer months. There are an estimated 10.3 million pet cats in the UK and although it is estimated that around 90% of owners have their cats neutered about 13% of owners of female cats say that their cat has had at least one litter. Of these owners, 70% said their cats pregnancy was unplanned which inevitably results in a lot of kittens*.

“Some people may think cats need to have a first litter to be healthy but this is an old wives tale. Neutering your cat allows them to go outside and do all the things they enjoy, such as climbing and playing.”

From May to September the RSPCA has neutered more than 4,000 cats.

The numbers of cats in RSPCA centres and branches in May reached a whopping 3,652 and June saw even more with 3,848. In July there were 2,492 and August there were 1,950 cats and kittens needing care.

Alice Potter added: “However, not all cats and kittens abandoned by their owners will have been lucky enough to make it into RSPCA care. Unfortunately there are kittens who have been dumped and will not make it, there is likely to be others who weren’t found in time, or never found at all.

20170820_193757 (1)

“If your cat has had an unwanted litter please do not throw them out like rubbish. There are options and animal welfare charities like the RSPCA who can help.

“If your cat has reached about four months old or more there are voucher schemes which can help with the cost of neutering such as the Cat Smart scheme in Sheffield and the Cat Care and Control Consortium in London. Check with your local RSPCA branch to see what services are available.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give

Sign-up to our FREE Katzenworld Newslettter
Get the latest content directly to your inbox.
We respect your privacy and will never pass your data to third parties.

Guest blog posts on all things cat-related from the RSPCA

Advertisements

Cat-titude! Give shy cats a chance

Shy cats can often get overlooked but just because they are quieter in the cattery does not mean they won’t make the perfect companion.

A cat can be shy or timid for a number of reasons, they may have been through a trauma, they could still be very young and learning the ropes, or maybe they are just waiting to find that special someone who can bring them out of their shell.

At the RSPCA Southall Cattery there are currently some timid cats who are looking for purr-fect homes.

Aneel Odhwani, animal care assistant at Southall in London, is urging prospective owners to give shy cats a chance.

He said: “All cats personalities’ are very unique, some might be feisty and some might be quieter but they could all make a great companion.

“Unfortunately this is quite a common problem which we see all over the country. People just don’t give shy cats a chance.

“People walk through catteries and don’t notice the timid ones as they pass through because they don’t go up to strangers immediately. The confident cats who stroll up to people are much more likely to catch someone’s eye.

Sindy (6)

“It is such a shame as just because a cat is shy in a cattery doesn’t mean they don’t make loyal, sweet-natured and often playful companions once they have settled in a home and have got to know their owners.

“Some might say that this extra bit of a challenge makes the bond between owner and cat all the more unique.

“The shy cat won’t go up to any old stranger with their love – it would be especially for you.”

Two year old Sindy was hit by a car in February and brought to Harmsworth Animal Hospital as she was unable to walk.

The black and white cat was found under a car by a passer-by in Brent and brought to the RSPCA for treatment.

No owner was ever found and so after a month of treatment she was back on her feet and arrived at Southall in March looking for a new home.

Aneel added: “She has recovered from her ordeal now but Sindy is a very shy cat. She’s not going to be anyone’s lap cat but she does want to make friends.

Besty“She would suit a quieter, adult-only home with a more experienced owner who understands her need to do her own thing.”

Three-year old Betsy is another cat who needs a little patience and lots of space.

She came in to Southall in March from a multi-cat household in London where 10 cats were living in total.

She shies away from the staff at the cattery and would rather be running around a field or out and about.

She would suit a home on a farm where she can have plenty of space to run around and be herself.

ParisnewParis and Andie are two timid foster sisters who are bound to come out of their shell soon.

The three month old kittens were brought in separately in April but have become foster sisters during their time at Southall.

Paris was found as a newborn with her mum in a back garden in London whereas Andie came in at about two weeks old without a mum. The pair have since become thick as thieves.

They are still quite timid but staff are sure they will grow out of this and will benefit from lots of company.

AndieThey will need a home with adults-only or older children who are used to cats. The new owners will also need to be experienced with cats as the pair are flu carriers.

Aneel added: “Shy cats can take some patience but in the end we’re sure it will be worth it.

“Southall Cattery is at full capacity and this isn’t a rare occurrence. We’d love it if more people took a chance on quieter cats and gave them the loving home they deserve.”

To rehome Sindy, Betsy, Paris or Andie, contact Southall Cattery, Hounslow, London on 0300 123 0746, or visit https://www.rspca.org.uk/local/southall-cattery/findapet#onSubmitSetHere

Or visit the national website at www.rspca.org.uk/findapet

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

Guest blog posts on all things cat-related from the RSPCA

How can you make your cat feel more at home?

RSPCA's South Godstone Animal Centre Supervisor Liz Forbes-Dale gives us a look at the ways we put cats in our care at ease, offering some inspiration for how you might be able to help your own feline companion feel more at home.

Cats arriving at RSPCA centres can be frightened and confused. They may have been in several places before arriving, or they may have only lived in their owner’s home until now.

Click this link for Leona’s (pictured above) adoption page

Cats are often seen as the ultimate control freaks who find any change in their routine and environment very difficult to cope with.

Domestic cats are very similar in their behaviour to their wild ancestors, so some of the measures we take help to allow them to follow their instincts in what is an unnatural environment for a cat.

The cattery at South Godstone has 40 cubicles in total, each with both an indoor pod and outdoor run.

Pictured left: A view of South Godstone cattery’s indoor pods, complete with feline resident.

We often know in advance when new cats are arriving, so we will set up a cattery pod with a number of different things in preparation:

Hidey-holes

Covered beds or cardboard boxes both inside the cubicle and in the outdoor runs give cats the chance to hide away from people if they choose to do so. The beds and boxes are filled with warm comfy bedding, sometimes partially covering the top so the cats can peek out. (Cats mostly prefer to be warmer than cold, so we try to make them as comfortable & warm as possible.)

Click this link for Moana’s (pictured right) adoption page

We try to keep very new cats away from the public viewing areas. Like many catteries that the RSPCA run South Godstone is open for the public to view the animals, and this can be quite upsetting if the cats have just arrived. Cats are often more comfortable with new faces and experiences once they are familiar with and confident in their environment.

Comfy fabrics

Our pods are made from lovely, easy to clean plastic: very hygienic but not very stimulating for the average kitty! Rugs, duvets or mats add another element and texture to their limited environment.

Feline pheromones

Cat laying comfortably in his bed © RSPCAWe spray the bedding with Feliway Classic. This contains an artificial facial pheromone (scent) that cats naturally produce. Normally a cat will rub this around their environment so that it smells familiar and they feel that they have been in this place before.

Large litter trays

Sometimes we have pairs of cats that will need a litter tray each, plus a spare one. Toileting for cats is a time when they will feel vulnerable and, like people, they often do not like to be seen while doing their business. We try to give them some privacy from the other cats alongside them by giving them enough space, and offering covered trays.

Scratching spots

Cats like to scratch for 2 reasons: it helps to maintain the health of their nails, and allows them to scent mark an area using scent glands between the pads on their paws, making it familiar, and leaving a message for other cats. Some cats prefer to scratch vertically & others horizontally, so we offer both scratching posts and carpet tiles.

Boredom busters

Cat playing with toy rope © RSPCAConfinement in the cattery can be very boring for cats and they can become frustrated, so we aim to keep them entertained. When the cats first arrive we do not play with them as it may be overwhelming, but we leave toys in their pods so that they start to become familiar. When they are ready and settled, both the staff and volunteers will engage in play sessions with the cats if they are interested.

Grooming tools

We like to groom all the cats in the cattery. Sometimes the more nervous cats will let us groom them where they wouldn’t let us pet or stroke them. The brushes are left in the cubicles for when the cats are settled enough to allow interactions, leaving the brushes inside also allows the item to become familiar to the cat.

Drinking bowls

We put one water bowl inside the pod and one in the back run.Cats are very sensitive about where they drink, and may prefer this to be away from feeding areas. As space is at a premium inside, we we give them an extra bowl outside. Plastic bowls can taint the taste of the water so we try to use other materials: glass, metal or a ceramic.

Food boredom

Once the cats have settled we consider how we can help to mimic some of the cats wild behaviours. One of the easiest way is by getting them hunting!

Cat Danaerys seeks out biscuits hidden in pyramid toy © RSPCAHunting is a natural behaviour which is not solely linked to hunger. Cats in the wild will go on hunting adventures up to 40 times a day and may catch something 10 to 20 times, so with this in mind it must be very boring to have your dinner served in a bowl! As well as play, we try to use alternative feeding methods which simulate this search for food.

Pictured left: Danaerys tackles a toilet roll pyramid: the rolls are all glued together with biscuits hidden inside, meaning the cats have to seek out the hidden treasures!

We hope a few of these tips and trick from our cattery will come in useful if you’re hoping to welcome a new cat into your household soon, and may even help your existing feline feel more at home!

Still searching for the purrfect pal? Take a look at all the cats in need of new homes on our Find a Pet pages

Guest blog posts on all things cat-related from the RSPCA