Owners abandon the cats that kept them company during lockdown

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has reported that 148 cats have been surrendered to the shelter for financial reasons. This is double the number compared to last year. They've all been handed in because their owners are cash-strapped, hit by the cost-of-living crisis which has been so heavily reported on in the UK. And the winter is yet to arrive. This is when gas and electricity prices are going to double or treble or whatever the figure is. That's going to push up inflation even further perhaps to around 13% in the UK. There will be more surrenders.

Pictured: Dustin 2-month-old male tabby and white kitten gifted to Battersea his as owners were no longer able to look after him.
Pictured: Dustin 2-month-old male tabby and white kitten gifted to Battersea his as owners were no longer able to look after him. Image: Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (believed).

What is particularly sad about this story is that the people who adopted kittens and cats during the Covid lockdowns are now abandoning them because of, yes, the cost-of-living crisis and inflation and, frankly, because they didn't really work out how much it would cost to look after a cat for the life of the cat.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home say that it costs about £1,500 annually to look after a cat properly. You might do it cheaper than that but let's put it this way, it does cost money and it is something which is often overlooked.

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Battersea say that the people who are giving up their cats are often devastated and that it is a very emotional time for them. I would doubt that applies in every case. If you casually adopt a cat during lockdown to keep you company it signals to me that the attitude of the adopter is incorrect and that being the case giving up their cat is not going to be as hard as they state.

Battersea state that the number of cats relinquished to their shelter because owners can no longer afford to look after them has reached 9.6% of families relinquishing cats whereas it was 5.9% last year.

An example is Amanda - a fictional name to protect her identity - who found her two cats were a huge support during lockdown is but she's been forced to give them up for financial reasons. She said: "I was struggling to afford things and I didn't want my cats to suffer, so it was best to find them a better home. I struggle with mental health and the cats were a big part of my life, so it was upsetting to get rid of them."

There is a double problem which is this. More people are giving up their cats and it is harder to rehome cats because people are wary about the rising costs ahead of them and are therefore hesitant to take on the added financial responsibility.

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In one instance a couple of cats were surrendered because they became pregnant and their owners said that they could not afford to take care of the kittens as well. Well, you have to think why did the owners allow their cats to become pregnant? That is careless cat ownership.

Another high-profile cat rescue organisation, Cats Protection, said that a survey of 10,000 cat owners found that 30% were concerned about affording bills.

I can foresee many more cat surrenders taking place over the forthcoming winter. What is happening now was entirely predictable and predicted a couple of years ago during the first lockdown. And the same problem is occurring with dogs. In fact, I would suggest that the problem is bigger with dogs because more dogs were adopted during Covid lockdowns than cats.

On the other side of the coin, cat owners determined to hang on to their cats are getting pet food from food banks. Animal charity Blue Cross already has four pet food banks and is looking at rolling out more across the country according to the Express newspaper online.

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