The charities are warning owners not having their cats neutered could lead to a population explosion as these unplanned litters could add up to as many as 4.3 million potentially unwanted kittens.
The nine animal welfare charities which make up the Cat Population Control Group (CPCG) are urging cat owners to get their animals neutered to avoid more unwanted felines ending up on the streets or in rescue centres that are already struggling to cope.
Research from vet charity PDSA has revealed that just 15% of cat owners whose animals had kittens had planned for the litters.
These high numbers of unplanned and potentially unwanted kittens continue to cause strain on animal charities and rescue centres. There are already over 11 million cats in the UK and thousands of these end up abandoned in rescue centres across the country every year.
To tackle the issue, the CPCG today launched its annual World Spay Day campaign to encourage more owners to get their cats neutered.
Nicola Martin, Head of Pet Health & Welfare at PDSA, said: “Our research has shown that unprepared cat owners are putting themselves in an unnecessary and potentially challenging position by not getting their cats neutered. The impact of this can be both costly and stressful if a cat becomes pregnant as it can be very difficult to find loving new homes for large numbers of kittens. As a result, we know that sadly many cats end up in rehoming and rescue centres.”
According to PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, which was produced in conjunction with YouGov, nearly a quarter of cat owners (24%) whose cat has not been neutered said their felines had not been neutered because they “hadn’t thought about it”. Other top reasons for not getting the procedure done included simply not getting around to it (13%) and that it was too expensive (8%).
Lindsey Quinlan, Battersea’s Head of Catteries said: “There is no doubt that the numbers of unwanted cats coming in through the doors of rescue centres such as Battersea could be greatly reduced if owners took the decision to neuter their pets to prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring. It’s astonishing that one un-neutered female cat can produce 20,000 descendants in just five years and cats can have up to five litters a year with five or six kittens in each litter. Neutering has numerous health benefits for your cat and here at Battersea we neuter all our cats and kittens before they are sent to new homes. In 2014 we carried out 1,787 cat neuters and took in around 700 kittens which was more than a 40% increase compared to the year before.”
Thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, PDSA will be educating more owners about the benefits of neutering, through a team of Pet Wellbeing Champions in PDSA’s Pet Hospitals. The CPCG is using World Spay Day to encourage owners of unneutered cats to speak to their vet about neutering. For more information please visit www.pdsa.org.uk/worldspayday