January 3, 2016
There are between 9.5-11.6 million cats in the UK and owning a cat can be extremely rewarding however cats retain much of the biology and behaviour of the wild cats they originated from and this means they have very complex welfare needs.
Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 sets out the requirements a cat owner must meet, however unlike with other animals, in particular dogs, there is no other species-specific legislation for cats.
The numbers of cats entering the RSPCA increased by 9.5% in the period 2010–2017, from 29,269 to 32,059. At the end of 2013, 30 percent of the cats in the care of the RSPCA were accommodated in private boarding establishments – and the cost for boarding rose from £1.9 million in 2010 to £2.45 million in 2013.
The RSPCA’s and other charities’ experience suggest that overpopulation of cats is one of the main problems. It is our experience that too many cat owners are not getting their pets neutered at an early enough age resulting in ‘accidental’, opportunistic (or backstreet) litters of kittens and vast numbers of unwanted kittens many of which end up as stray cats. It is widely accepted that neutering is the most effective solution for cat population control.
For further information on these issues please see the briefings.