Share this page

Tackling the cat crisis

Ginger kitten © RSPCA

The cat population in the UK has reached crisis point.

The numbers of cats coming into our care increased by eight percent between 2010-12. Our centres are now full we're having to rely heavily on private boarding establishments at considerable cost.

In the same period, the number of new homes that took in cats declined by 10 percent.

It is widely recognised that neutering is the key to controlling the cat population. But, despite the best efforts of the UK’s rescue organisations in providing subsidised neutering schemes, the cat population has continued to spiral out of control. Urgent action is required to increase the neutering rates of the country’s owned cat population and reduce the unacceptably high numbers of cats that end up in rescue.

To neuter or not to neuter?

Veterinary Surgeon examining cat © RSPCA

In 2012, we commissioned new research to understand more about why some people do and others do not neuter their cats. One of the key findings was that owners delay neutering because of the incorrect belief that cats should be allowed to have a litter of kittens.

Also, a lack of understanding about the age that cats can get pregnant results in a high number of unplanned litters - according to our research, 85 per cent of litters are unplanned.

A report - Tackling the cat crisis: a collaborative approach to neutering (PDF 2.73MB) - details the research findings and sets out a number of solutions.

This includes:

  • all veterinary practices promote and practise neutering at four months (the age at which cats can get pregnant)
  • all rescue organisations adopt policies to neuter prior to rehoming
  • A re-focus for neutering education campaigns that reposition neutering as the act of a caring, loving cat owner
  • the one litter myth is dispelled
  • collaboration between animal welfare and rescue organisations, the veterinary profession and housing associations through community outreach programmes to target those audiences less likely to neuter
  • pro-bono support is provided by veterinary professionals to further animal welfare.


Adopt a cat

Can you offer a forever home to a cat or kitten in our care?