The cat population in the UK has reached crisis point with more cats being taken in than ever before and fewer people adopting them.
In a new report Tackling the Cat Crisis, it has been revealed the number of cats entering the RSPCA has increased from 29,269 in 2010 to 31,556 in 2012.
The number of new homes found for cats in the same period declined by 10 per cent.
The RSPCA is full to capacity and at the end of 2013 had to rely on private boarding to home 30 per cent of the unwanted and abandoned cats in its care.
The cost of boarding has risen from £1.9 million in 2010 to £2.45 million in 2013.
Seventy-five per cent of the UK’s cat population are acquired as kittens, meaning that the market for rescue cats is already small.
RSPCA Chief Veterinary Officer James Yeates said: “The answer to the cat crisis lies in loving cat owners neutering their cats before they can get pregnant.
“Sadly one of the consequences of not neutering your cat means more and more cats are being brought into rescue centres as there is a shortage of available good homes for them.
“Our centres are now at crisis point with an increasing number of cats coming in to our care.”
Research found that many owners are delaying neutering because they incorrectly believe that cats should have one litter before they are neutered.
It also found that 85 per cent of litters are unplanned – as a result of owners being confused about when they should neuter their cats.
Cats can reach sexual maturity at around four months old, yet the traditional age for neutering is six months old. For this reason, the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations are calling on more vets to practise and promote neutering at four months of age to prevent unplanned litters.
Neutering at four months of age is supported by the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.
Notes to editors:
— The report Tackling the Cat Crisis, was launched today at the British Small Veterinary Association congress in Birmingham.
— The cat population in the UK is estimated to be between 9.5 million and 11.6 million with 24 per cent of the adult population owning cats.
— 85 per cent of cat litters are unplanned.
— 33,151 cats were rehomed in 2010 and 29,556 in 2012.
— The image shows four-year-old Peaches who has been at our RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre for six months. She was found underweight and wandering the streets she would love to find a forever home where she can settle down.
— In 2013, seven animal welfare organisations –Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the Blue Cross, Cats Protection, International Cat Care, PDSA, the RSPCA and Wood Green The Animals Charity – came together to form the Cat Population Control Group with the aim of maximising the effectiveness of neutering in the UK.
— For image information please call the press office.
— A PDF of the report is available at http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/catcrisis