Current Affairs

New report reveals London’s ‘cat crisis’

Recently released figures from the Cat Population Control Group, suggest that London is undergoing a crisis. In 2015, one London borough reported more cat incidents than in the whole of Leeds.

Cat Population Control Group comprises RSPCA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, iCatCare, PDSA, The Mayhew Animal Home, Celia Hammond Animal Trust, and Wood Green.

The reports figures have been drawn up based on cat related incidents reported in calls to the RSPCA in 2015. These include welfare offences, veterinary treatments and collections against the 100,000 head of the human population.

The borough with the biggest problem is Barking and Dagenham with 375 cat related incidents – more than the city of Nottingham (363), Leicester (353) or Leeds (347).

The borough with the second biggest problem is Newham (292) followed by Lambeth (289) and Haringey (280).

The figures have not been divided into owned and unowned or streetcats. The charities believe at least half of the cats they are seeing are strays.

RSPCA London veterinary director Caroline Allen said: “We believe that many of the injured or neglected cats brought into our care by Inspectors are street cats without an owner to care for them.

“Particularly in the summer months animal charities are inundated with kittens with no one to care for them – many have been born in a garden shed to a cat who has not been neutered. Sadly others can be deliberately dumped by owners who did not expect their cats to give birth.”

Caroline Allen continued: “To tackle this problem we need to work together as animal charities are struggling to cope with the demand. We strongly believe the answer lies in owners neutering pets to prevent unplanned litters and also keeping all microchip details up to date so if cats do end up straying we can quickly reunite them with their owners.”

Jane Clements, spokesperson for the CPCG, said: “Often associated with countries such as Spain and Greece, numbers of street – or community – cats are reported to be increasing in urban areas of the UK and are considered a particular problem in high-density areas of London.”

“This has been borne out of a broader cat population crisis as there are simply more cats than there are people to care for them. Latest figures from the PDSA show that of female owned cats that had had litters 64 per cent of owners said that the pregnancy was not planned.*

“As charities we are now coming together to try to show the scale of this problem and to encourage owners to get their cats neutered to help us tackle this.”

The C4 Cat Neutering Consortium – set up in 2002 – runs free neutering schemes through many vet practices within the M25 to those on low incomes.

The CPCG believes, as highlighted in the report, there is a  need for greater collaboration between animal welfare organisations, the veterinary profession, local authorities, housing associations and public services like social services to tackle this spiralling problem.

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