RSPCA fears pandemic 'impulse buying' could lead to boom in cats going into Hertfordshire rescue centres
Figures show Google searches for kittens have soared this summer compared to last year
The RSPCA is concerned a boom in kitten buying could lead to more cats going into rescue centres, as the charity reports there were 596 cat incidents in Hertfordshire this year.
This July saw Google searches for ‘Kittens near me’ increase sixfold compared to the same period last year (a 667 per cent increase). During lockdown, there was also a 188 per cent increase in searches for kittens within just a few months.
Many people have found they now have more time on their hands during the lockdown, so it is unsurprising that many have sought a pet to keep them company.
However, the RSPCA would always urge anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider whether they can care for them in the long-term - and not just for a pandemic.
Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, said: “It’s fantastic that so many people are interested in bringing a cat into their home this year.
"However, with such high increases in people searching for kittens online, it’s important that prospective owners are doing their research and not buying a kitten on impulse.
"This means making sure they have the time, money and resources to care for a cat for the rest of their lives, but also ensuring that if buying a kitten they are buying a healthy and happy kitten from a responsible breeder.
“Sadly, we do see cases of cats coming into our care who have been bought without the correct vaccinations, care or attention and the results can not only be devastating for the cats themselves but also the new owners who have to provide the time and cost it takes to look after these very poorly kittens.
"This is why the RSPCA and other cat charities have come together to create The Kitten Checklist to provide vital information, such as ensuring you see the kitten with its mum and siblings in the place where they were bred, and peace of mind for anyone looking to bring a kitten into their home."
Since the start of the year, the RSPCA has received more than 45,000 incidents relating to cats meaning there are lots of cats in their care looking for homes.The RSPCA would always encourage people to adopt a rescue cat instead.
Alice added: “We are braced for a kitten season boom next year as routine neutering procedures had to be put on hold during the lockdown.
"This means that whilst the UK is already facing a cat overpopulation crisis, we may now see even more unplanned litters of kittens.
"If you’ve got a kitten during lockdown, it’s so important to get them booked into your vets for a spay or a snip.
"We believe neutering from four-months-old can help tackle the overpopulation crisis and ensure we don’t see more unwanted litters being born and putting extra strain on rescue centres like the RSPCA.”
Cats are popular pets with the charity rehoming 24,095 cats last year - that’s one cat rehomed every 20 minutes across England and Wales and 783 cats rehomed in Hertfordshire.
Two-year-old Junior, a domestic shorthair, from Southridge Animal Centre in Hertfordshire, is looking for a home.
As Junior is so nervous, an adult home would be best for him as he will need time to settle in. Junior will need a patient understanding owner who will help him learn to trust again and come out of his shell so they can see his true character. For more information about Junior, click here.
Two-year-old Bertie, a domestic shorthair from Southridge Animal Centre in Hertfordshire, is also looking for a new home.
He is looking for a quiet, adult only household, where he can take his time to settle into his surroundings. He will need a home where someone will put a lot of effort into making a good environment for him where he will feel safe. For more information about Bertie, click here.Under the current Covid rehoming protocols anyone interested in fostering or adopting an animal from the RSPCA should visit www.rspca.org.uk to see which animals are available near them.