Friday 30 July 2021

Post-pandemic surge in cat adoptions in UK

NEWS AND COMMENT: There was a surge in dog adoptions, mainly purchases of purebred, small dogs, during the coronavirus pandemic. In the UK, the pandemic, as we know it, is nearing its end, we hope. That is the general consensus and it is due to the great success of the vaccination programme which combined with a high level of infections without bad symptoms in unvaccinated, young people has resulted in near herd immunity. Once we get to herd immunity you could probably argue that the pandemic in the UK is over.

Couple of shelter cats ready for adoption
Couple of shelter cats ready for adoption as a pair.

Click for factors affecting the success rate of shelter adoptions.

And at this time the Pets4Homes last quarterly report tells us that almost as many cats were rehomed in the first half of 2021 compared with all of 2020. The number rehomed this year so far is 156,193 whereas for all of last year the number is 179,298.

In contrast, dog adoptions have faded from their peak when there was this manic desire to adopt a dog during lockdown. The report states that the previous trends are in reverse with an increased number of available cats and dogs for rehoming. They say that the number of companion animals available for rehoming has risen dramatically. 

Comment: this appears to be a result of impulsive purchases of dogs resulting in a relinquishment of those dogs once the adopters returned to normal in terms of their employment. In short, it appears that some people adopted a companion animal simply for the duration of the pandemic lockdowns.

The report states that the slowdown in demand for dog has come about at the same time that there has been an increase in demand for cats. I don't know what we can make of that. I know we can understand why dogs were adopted during the pandemic. And we understand why they've been abandoned after the pandemic. But why are more cats being adopted at this time?

Perhaps things have got back to normal, more or less. Throughout 2020, which was the year of the pandemic, with social distancing and lockdowns, there was a surge in dog adoptions. That probably weakened demand for cats because the focus was on dogs. When those pressures to adopt a dog had passed people reverted back to adopting shelter cats hence the statistics mentioned above in the second paragraph. 

A key aspect of choosing cats over dogs is that they are perceived as being more suitable for working owners who are away from the home for long periods. This is actually not necessarily true but the belief that it is true has fueled the increase in cat adoptions now that employees are returning to the office to work rather than working from home.

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