Cat crisis hits Harrogate: Warning from RSPCA

The RSPCA has issued a warning about its cat crisis.
The RSPCA has issued a warning about its cat crisis.

The RSPCA has warned that the UK's cat population has reached crisis point, and their rescue centre for Harrogate has been named as among those feeling the strain.

The charity said their centre for Harrogate and York is "consistently at capacity" - last year, 347 cats were rescued or taken in, and 300 were re-homed.

In a statement, the RSPCA said: "Did you know that the cat population in the UK has reached crisis point?If the cat population continues to grow at the current rate, then the pressure currently experienced by all cat rescue charities will become unsustainable."

RSPCA Branch Outreach Manager Nic Willis said: “We are consistently at our capacity with cats, it is very unusual for us to have any spaces in our cattery. As soon as one cat is rehomed, there is another one waiting to take its place.

"The situation is particularly bad during kitten season when we are inundated with abandoned and unwanted litters.”

On average, RSPCA's national call centre receives a call about cats every three minutes. In 2017, the charity rescued and collected 25,871 cats, and animal centres and branches found new homes for 26,369 cats in its care.

The charity said: "As a large majority of the UK’s cats are acquired as kittens, the market for adult rescue cats is already, by comparison, very small and could be reaching saturation point.

"It is widely recognised that effective neutering is the principal answer to cat population control, but despite the best efforts of the local RSPCA and other rescue organisations offering subsidised or free neutering schemes, the cat population continues to spiral out of control."

There are approximately 10.3 million cats in the UK, according to the PDSA Paw report in 2017, and one unneutered female could produce 18 kittens a year. The RSPCA said she could be responsible for producing 20,000 descendants in just five years.

Advice issued by the RSPCA

Cats can become pregnant whilst they are still kittens themselves, so the RSPCA recommends neutering at four months of age, or earlier.

The RSPCA said: "Whilst most owners do neuter their cats, sadly many owned cats are allowed to breed before being neutered, adding to the overpopulation problem and the demand on overstretched animal charities. Please don’t leave it too late. Speak to your vet and book your cat’s neutering appointment today.

"It should benefit your cat, it may prevent your cat suffering, and it is the most important action you can take to help the wider cat population."

If you are struggling with the cost of neutering, or are on benefits or a low income, contact your local RSPCA branch for financial assistance. Email nic@rspca-yorkhome.org.uk or call 07817 344139.