This World Spay Day (February 26) a group of cat and vet organisations have come together to highlight the cat overpopulation crisis facing the UK today.
To mark the international day which raises awareness of the need to neuter our pets, the RSPCA reveals that cats are the most rescued animal by its frontline officers.
In 2018, officers rescued more than 22,000 cats and received more than 150,000 calls about cats to its national control centre - that’s the equivalent of 18 calls about cats every hour.
The Cat Population Control Group (CPCG)* is calling for kittens to be neutered from four months old to avoid unplanned litters and reduce the thousands of cats who end up in the care of the RSPCA and other charities.
Carrie Stones, Cat Population Control Manager at the RSPCA, said: “Sadly, cats are the most rescued animal by the RSPCA and we receive hundreds of thousands of calls about their welfare each year. The UK is facing a cat overpopulation crisis as there are simply not enough homes for the large number of cats we and other charities see. We believe the answer is to neuter cats from four months old to ensure that no more unwanted litters are born.”
RSPCA figures reveal that Greater London takes the top spot for the most cats rescued with 2,350 cats coming into RSPCA care from the capital alone last year. A neutering scheme called C4 in Greater London is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month and in that time the project has neutered more than 150,000 cats - that’s as many cats as the whole population of Oxford. London was followed by the West Midlands where 1,887 cats were rescued by the charity’s frontline officers.
In Greater Manchester, there were over 1,500 cats rescued by the RSPCA. Staff at the Greater Manchester Animal Hospital are promoting World Spay Day this year by launching their mobile neutering van which will travel around Greater Manchester offering free or discounted neutering for cat owners. This scheme has been funded with help from Support Adoption for Pets, the charitable arm of Pets at Home as well as the Charitable Trust W.G Harvey’s Discretionary Settlement.
In South Yorkshire a total of 893 cats had to be rescued.
The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2018, revealed that 9% of cats are not neutered which equates to 999,000 unneutered cats in the UK.
The top reasons for not neutering included that the owner hadn’t thought about it (24%), that the cat doesn’t go outside (15%), and they were too young (15%). Last year’s PDSA report also found that 13% of owners of female cats said that their cat had at least one litter and 70% of those owners said that their cat’s pregnancy was unplanned.
Neutering cats from four months old rather than the traditional six months will have a significant impact on the number of unplanned litters and therefore reduce the large amount of homeless cats.
In 2017, the RSPCA neutered 38,474 cats and Cats Protection neutered 153,000 felines.
Jane Clements, Head of Neutering at Cats Protection, said: “The CPCG collaboration enables the charities to work together effectively to decrease the numbers of accidental litters born, which is fundamental to preventing cats and kittens ending up in shelter care or being born on the streets.”
Cats Protection has also piloted its stray cat project (Cat Watch) in six regions in the UK with the aim of estimating the number of strays in the UK and working with urban communities to improve cat welfare. The first trial launched in Bulwell in Nottingham in 2016 and due to this work, in 2018 there were no homeless kittens born on Bulwell’s streets.
For more information about charities and vet practices taking part in World Spay Day events this year, visit: www.cats.org.uk/worldspayday