‘Don’t buy on impulse’ - RSPCA warning after boom in kitten sales
PUBLISHED: 16:03 15 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:03 15 October 2020
A boom in kitten buying during the Covid-19 lockdown has prompted a warning from the RSPCA for prospective owners to do their research when searching for a new pet.
The animal welfare charity has raised concerns that the rise in purchases could lead to more cats coming into rescue centres and needing new homes.
There were 522 cat incidents in Suffolk this year, according to the charity.
Google searches for ‘kittens near me’ increased sixfold in July compared with the same time last year, with a sharp overall rise in online searches during lockdown.
The RSPCA said while it is “unsurprising” that many people have sought to bring a pet into their homes for company during lockdown, it is urging those who are searching for a kitten not to buy on impulse.
Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s 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 are buying a healthy and happy kitten from a responsible breeder.
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“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.”
MORE: Charity urges vigilance over online kitten sales after spike in demand for ‘lockdown pets’
The charity added that it is bracing for a kitten season boom next year as routine neutering procedures had to be put on hold during the coronavirus lockdown.
“This means that while the UK is already facing a cat overpopulation crisis, we may now see even more unplanned litters of kittens,” Ms Potter added.
“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.”
Anyone interested in adopting a cat can visit the RSPCA’s website for details on animals available where you live.
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