UK: number of neutered cats fell from 91 to 86% in 2020 due to Covid

NEWS AND COMMENT - UK: The legacy of Covid is with us in the world of cats because it is reported that the pandemic has caused the number of neutered cats in the UK to fall from 91 to 86% in 2020. The reason: cat owners were frightened to go to a veterinary clinic because of the fear of getting Covid.

Cat at a veterinary clinic in the UK
Cat at a veterinary clinic in the UK. Photograph: Getty images

The problem is compounded by the fact that more people than usual adopted cats and dogs during the Covid pandemic as company at home during lockdowns. The two changes in human behaviour combined resulted in more than the usual number of unsterilised domestic cats. This in turn produced more unwanted litters which further in turn has put rescue charities under increased pressure as the number of unwanted cats has increased at their rescue centres.

One veterinary clinic is offering low-cost neutering and spaying for eligible cat owners on low incomes in the Bristol area: Bristol Animal Rescue Centre. The cost of neutering a male cat at this centre is £30. Spaying of female cats costs £45 to eligible pet owners across Bristol. I am sure that there are many more clinics offering the same service to try and rectify what is a problem caused by Covid.

The RSPCA report that over 1 million cats remain unneutered in the UK resulting in an unprecedented increase in cat breeding.

The Independent newspaper reported that the RSPCA had warned that these conditions might lead to hordes of cats roaming the streets. I think that was an exaggeration. A bit of good news according to Cats Protection is that the number of cats neutered under four months of age rose from 22% in 2020 to 24% in 2021. This was a welcome increase in the uptake of pre-pubertal neutering by the veterinary profession.

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