null Cat crisis: we've taken in more felines than any other animal during Covid crisis

Cat crisis: we've taken in more felines than any other animal during Covid crisis

Since lockdown, we've taken 324 cats into our care, more than any other pet, and fears that the situation is set to get worse, as the traditional kitten season gets underway. This is on top of the over 1,000 cats we already have in our care.

Kitten season always sees a rise in numbers

Kitten Lula in our care © RSPCA

There's always an influx of youngsters at this time of year but lockdown means that it's harder for owners to neuter their pets and our experts fear we'll see even more unwanted litters coming through our doors.

Our animal rescuers have been designated key workers by the Government and therefore launched an emergency appeal for vital funding which is needed to help our frontline staff continue the crucial work across England and Wales.

Dr Samantha Gaines, head of our companion animal department, said:

We're currently caring for more cats than any other pet throughout the Coronavirus crisis. Every year, the scale of the cat overpopulation problem becomes even more apparent from May to September when most cats are born as we're often overwhelmed with kittens.

The kitten season this year will continue despite COVID-19 and so we're bracing ourself for even more cats.

Since the start of lockdown, there have been 6,630 incidents reported to our hotline about cats with the most incidents in:

  • Greater London (870)
  • West Midlands (453)
  • Greater Manchester (364)
  • West Yorkshire (326)

We're currently caring for 1,013 cats which is more than any other pet in our care. 

Last year, there were 108,190 incidents reported about cats with the most recorded in:

  1. August (11,371)
  2. September (10,718)
  3. May (10,693)

These months are all during the kitten season. 

Cats currently in our care

Pregnant cat found abandoned

A pregnant cat who was abandoned in Sheffield after their owners moved away is being fostered by our inspector Leanne Booth.

The kittens are now four weeks old and have been joined by a single three-week-old kitten Luca who was found under some decking on his own at just a few days old and has been hand-reared by Leanne.

A mother and her kittens

We rescued a mother cat and her three kittens were rescued on Monday, 20 April after a member of the public found them abandoned in a carrier bag in Salford.

Luella and her kittens, who are about 10 days old, are now being cared for by our Manchester and Salford branch.

Stray cat found struggling to give birth

A six-month-old stray cat who was found by a member of the public struggling to give birth in Hyde in Greater Manchester was rescued by our animal collection officer Jessica Pierce on 13 May.

Ruby was taken straight to the vets for an emergency c-section and delivered five kittens but sadly three of them passed away. As Ruby is so tiny herself she couldn't give birth naturally and although her and her surviving kittens are recovering well, the kittens may need to be hand reared if she doesn't show an interest in them as their mum is just a kitten herself.

Newborn kittens

Two newborn kittens were rescued by our inspector Jo Daniel in Somerset on 15 April after they were found outside a Morrisons distribution centre. The inspector has been hand-rearing the kittens, named Scrumpy and Marmalade, at her home throughout the lockdown with a little help from her family.

Caring for cats against the odds

Sam added:

Our frontline officers will continue to rescue as many cats as we can and our animal centre staff, hospitals and branches will carry on caring for the many cats coming into our care throughout the crisis. We rely on donations from our generous supporters to carry out this vital work and need their support now more than ever as our services become stretched to the limit.

We believe neutering cats from four months old will help tackle the cat overpopulation problem the UK faces. This will reduce the amount of unwanted and unexpected litters of kittens that are born and sadly end up in rescue centres.

We understand that many owners may not be able to get their pets neutered at the moment as understandably vets are prioritising emergencies in the face of Covid-19 and restricting other procedures. It's important to follow your vet's guidance and understand if they cannot neuter your pet at this time.

We would urge anyone with an unneutered female cat to keep them indoors. If you have a male female pair or really can't keep your cat inside, do call your vet to discuss options.

We have plenty of information on how to keep your cat entertained indoors. There's also lots of advice on keeping pets happy and healthy during the coronavirus crisis.

To help us keep rescuing animals like these and keep our animal hospitals and centres running for emergency treatment and round the clock care through these unprecedented times, please donate online whatever you can spare.