The RSPCA has released new figures which reveal seven cats a day suffer at the hands of humans and this is expected to increase during the summer months.
Over the last six years (2016-2021), there were 16,212 incidents of deliberate cruelty towards cats reported to the animal welfare charity which equals a staggering seven cats a day suffering at the hands of humans. In 2021 alone, there were 1,387 reports of intentional harm to cats and this peaked during the months of July and August.*
Overall, there were 17,804 complaints made to the charity regarding cats in 2021 from abandonments, poisonings, mutilations, shootings, beatings and neglect. This includes 1,049 reports in Wales.
The RSPCA also fears that new figures showing a recent boom in the kitten trade could see a worrying rise in unscrupulous breeders putting profits before welfare and could spell further cruelty to cats.
In the last five years, there were 825 reports made to Trading Standards, council officers who enforce consumer protection laws, across England and Wales involving kitten related complaints. Compared with 2017 figures there was a 185% increase in 2021 regarding the buying and selling of kittens.**
David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said: “The demand for pets soared during the pandemic meaning backstreet kitten breeders have been able to make more money out of flogging pets online. We normally see a rise in kittens being sold at this time of year and coupled with the cost of living crisis, sadly we could see a boom in the kitten trade this year as a result. If you are considering buying a kitten, we would urge people to use the Kitten Checklist.”
To help prevent suffering the RSPCA has launched its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign which aims to raise funds to keep its rescue teams on the frontline saving animals in desperate need of help as well as raising awareness about how we can all work together to stamp out
cruelty for good.
Sam Watson, cat welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “It’s awful to think cats are suffering deliberate cruelty and to know that an average of seven cats every single day are suffering at the hands of humans is really distressing. Cats are one of the most popular pets in the UK with an estimated 10.5 million pet cats in UK homes but sadly they are the second most abused pet – after dogs.
“Tragically, we see hundreds of animals that come through our doors every year who have been subjected to unimaginable cruelty – being beaten, thrown across the room, had bones broken, been shot at, poisoned and drowned.
“As well as being hurt by their owners, cats are also more vulnerable as they tend to be out and about on their own which can leave them vulnerable to airgun attacks and other forms of cruelty by complete strangers.”
Across Wales there sadly have been countless concerning incidents involving cats – many of them involving air guns and heartbreaking abandonments. Cats and wildlife are often the target of air rifle attacks, simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them. The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal. These attacks are often deliberate by people who just don’t care about hurting animals or are deliberately targeting animals to keep them away from gardens.
The RSPCA is calling for tighter controls with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun and that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop.
Cats are also sadly abandoned due to unwanted litters with the RSPCA believing neutering can help tackle the overpopulation crisis. 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.
A cat was found with his leg hanging off by its skin after spending at least a week trapped in an illegal gin trap in Stepaside in July last year. Shockingly, vets found the cat’s leg had already amputated itself as a result of the trap – but the barbaric device was still attached to the cat by skin. Maggots dropped out of the cat’s wounds into the RSPCA officer’s van as she transported the distressed animal. Gin traps are mechanical devices used to catch an animal by its leg, using spring-operated jaws with teeth or a serrated edge. The trap from this incident was illegal to set and use, although not illegal for somebody to own or sell. Vets fully amputated the cat’s leg from the shoulder – and he immediately went on a course of medication and fluids. He then went into the care of Cat Rescue West Wales charity.
A cat was sadly shot with an air gun in Bridgend in May last year. The cat – named Sasha – was found having great difficulty moving, had a nasty leg wound and blood all over her back. Vets amputated the leg in surgery – but tragically, following the trauma of the shooting, Sasha died three days later of heart failure. Vets also discovered another pellet in a different leg that was old and healed, indicating that the cat had been shot in the past too.
An appeal for information was launched last September after a cat was shot near Builth Wells. Lily, an 18-month old tabby cat, was found by her owners in her bed at Church Cottage, Aberedw with injuries caused by two air gun pellets. Vets confirmed the cat had been shot by an air weapon – and sadly the extent of her injuries meant her front
right leg had to be amputated.
A cat was shot in the Hengoed area with an air weapon last October. Owners of the three-year-old white and tortoiseshell cat found at their Gelligaer home with injuries to the right side of her abdomen. Vets later confirmed the cat had been shot and found a metal pellet in her body – but, thankfully, the cat only required pain medication and has been recovering well from the attack. The pellet wasn’t able to be removed – as vets felt surgery could be more risky than leaving the bullet where it was. RSPCA inspector Gemma Black said: “It is so shocking to think somebody in the Hengoed area has targeted an innocent cat in this way.”
Obi, the grey cat, was sadly shot through his stomach with a pellet gun, in Colwyn Bay in June last year. He was found in a very bad way at his Cysgod-Y-Bryn home and vets found that the bullet had gone onto snap the cat’s left back leg. Obi was given an operation, where his broken leg was held into place with an external frame and pin and fortunately Luckily Obi recovered following the surgery. RSPCA inspector Mike Pugh said: “Sadly, Obi was found by his owners in a really bad way having been targeted near his Cysgod-Y-Bryn home in Colwyn Bay. It beggars belief to think someone has been spending their time taking pot shots at innocent pets like poor Obi.
“Sadly, RSPCA officers all too often deal with incidents where cats and other pets have been shot by air weapons and rifles. We continue to support better education and a thorough explanation of the law for users.”
A female cat and her kitten were cruelly abandoned in a pet carrier outside the RSPCA Newport Animal Centre last October. A passer-by spotted the carrier in bushes near the Hartridge Farm Road centre and when they went to investigate further they found the frightened felines inside. The black mother cat, and her tortoiseshell kitten, who was about 12-weeks-old at the time, were taken in by the centre and were placed in RSPCA foster care before being rehomed.
A British shorthair kitten was abandoned in a “terrible” state in a supermarket car park in Cardiff last December. The male ginger kitten, who was thought to be no more than six-months-old at the time, was spotted by a shopper at the Wilko store in Colchester Avenue. His back end was covered in diarrhoea and he had painful urine scalding on all four pads, suggesting he could have been kept in cramped or dirty conditions. A puppy pad – covered in faeces – was found nearby.
Inspector Sophie Daniels, who collected the kitten and took him for immediate veterinary treatment, said: “This poor little chap was found in a terrible state. He may have been one of a litter of pedigree kittens and then abandoned after failing to be sold or becoming ill; it’s even possible that he was purchased as an unwanted Christmas present. Whatever the circumstances, it’s clear from the state he was found in that he hasn’t received the appropriate care.”
A male kitten was believed to have been dumped at a B&Q store in Pontypridd last September. Officers from the RSPCA were alerted after the ginger and white kitten was found in the car park of the Ynysangharad Road store. A caller to the charity reported that the young puss appeared in the car park amongst parked vehicles whilst other vehicles were seen driving away. The 12-week-old kitten was taken to a local veterinary practice – and he was found to be riddled with fleas, but had no other welfare issues. He was not microchipped.
The RSPCA receives around 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month and investigates 6,000 reports of deliberate animal cruelty, including animal fighting and hunting. But in the summer*** calls rise to 134,000 a month – three every minute and reports of cruelty soar to 7,600 each month – a heartbreaking 245 every day.
The RSPCA’s rescue teams need support to stay out on the frontline as the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty.
£2 could help to provide a meal for a cat or dog in our care
£6 could help pay to feed a dog for a day in our care
£10 could help pay towards bandages for a cat or dog
£15 could help pay for a cat or dog’s clinical exam
£20 could help pay towards a bird catching kit
£30 could help pay for a life jacket for an inspector
£100 could help pay towards water rescue equipment
£500 could kit out a 4×4 inspector van
Our frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can’t do it alone – we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty. To help support the RSPCA, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/stopcruelty
If you cannot donate, there are other ways you can help Cancel Out Cruelty, from volunteering with the RSPCA, holding a bake sale or fundraiser, or taking part in the #50MilesForAnimals challenge.