We urge the public to do their research as the UK sees a 'summer boom' in kitten buying
The RSPCA are urging people to do their research before taking on a pet as figures show there's been a huge spike in people looking to buy or rehome kittens this year.
This July saw Google searches for 'Kittens near me' increase sixfold compared to the same period last year (a 667% increase). During the lockdown, there has also been a 188% increase in searches for kittens within just a few months.
There have also been more than 45,000 incidents relating to cats reported to the RSPCA so far this year. They currently have 878 cats in their care which is more than any other pet rescued.Being at home more has encouraged people to buy pets
Many people have found they now have more time on their hands during the lockdown, so it's unsurprising that many have sought a pet to keep them company. However, the charity would always urge anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider whether they can care for them in the long-term - and not just for a pandemic.
Alice Potter, RSPCA cat welfare expert, said:
"It's fantastic that so many people are interested in bringing a cat into their home this year. However, with such high increases in people searching for kittens online, it's important that prospective owners are doing their research and not buying a kitten on impulse. This means making sure they have the time, money and resources to care for a cat for the rest of their lives, but also ensuring that if buying a kitten they're buying a healthy and happy kitten from a responsible breeder.
"It's true that we see much higher cases of puppy farms than unscrupulous kitten breeders but it does happen which is why it's so important to do your research and make sure you're buying from a reputable seller.
"Sadly, we do see cases of cats coming into our care who have been bought without the correct vaccinations, care or attention and the results can not only be devastating for the cats themselves but also the new owners who have to provide the time and cost it takes to look after these very poorly kittens. This is why the RSPCA and other cat charities have come together to create The Kitten Checklist to provide vital information, such as ensuring you see the kitten with its mum and siblings in the place where they were bred, and peace of mind for anyone looking to bring a kitten into their home."Adopt don't shop
The RSPCA are encouraging people to adopt a rescue cat instead.
During the lockdown, there's been a 114% increase in the number of people searching for cats to adopt on the organisation's Find a Pet compared to the previous year.
"It's great to see so many people are looking to adopt a rescue cat with more than a million people visiting our Find a Pet during the pandemic.
"We are braced for a kitten season boom next year as routine neutering procedures had to be put on hold during the lockdown. This means that whilst the UK is already facing a cat overpopulation crisis, we may now see even more unplanned litters of kittens. If you've got a kitten during lockdown, it¿s so important to get them booked into your vets for a spay or a snip.
"Kittens can get pregnant from just four months old and there may be a longer wait than usual at some vet practices due to the pandemic, so it's important to get them booked in early. We believe neutering from four-months-old can help tackle the overpopulation crisis and ensure we don't see more unwanted litters being born and putting extra strain on rescue centres like the RSPCA."
Cats are popular pets with the RSPCA for rehoming 24,095 cats last year, compared to 7,480 dogs and 2,569 rabbits. That's:
- 2,008 cats a month
- 463 a week
- 66 a day
- three every hour
- or one cat rehomed every 20 minutes.