A survey conducted by a cat rescue charity has asked whether there are too many cats in Britain - and found that 92 per cent of respondents want tougher rules to control of cat numbers.
Yorkshire cat rescue surveyed more than 500 people across the UK about cat population control.
It is estimated that the number of unwanted cats in the UK is in excess of four million, putting strain on cat protection services. Yorkshire Cat Rescue cares for over 100 cats at a time and has a waiting list of 700 cats and kittens.
With an estimated 850,000 cats having unplanned litters, the problem of irresponsible owners abandoning kittens in the wild is a serious issue. While anyone found guilty of doing this would face punishment under the animal cruelty act, the overwhelming majority of people surveyed felt that stronger punishment is needed.
Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue commented: “It is already illegal for people to leave domesticated cats where they are not provided for, but people clearly want to see more prosecutions and harsher sentencing. In most cases, offenders receive a small fine or community service. Judging by the country’s stray and feral cat population, and bulging rehoming centres, current measures don’t seem to be having much effect.
“Although it may not seem exceptionally cruel to release a cat into the wild, these pets face an uncertain, stressful and often very short life. Certainly, those who are convicted of animal cruelty should at least be banned from keeping pets in the future.”
The survey found that 45 per cent of people felt that local councils should be responsible for controlling the UK’s stray and feral cat population, with 30 per cent feeling the burden should fall on charities or the RSPCA.
If you believe there is a stray, or feral, cat in your neighbourhood, Sarah offers the following advice:“Make certain that a cat which appears to be a stray has definitely been abandoned or lost his previous owner.
“We have a page on our website detailing the steps that should be taken if a stray cat shows up near your home. The first thing to do is to attach a paper note to the cat’s collar with your contact details on. It gives the cat’s real owner a chance to get in touch and confirm that he isn’t a stray. Cats who aren’t spayed and neutered can travel long distances.
“Alternatively, take the cat to vet or a local rescue and ask them to scan for a microchip. Posting pictures and a description of the cat on local Facebook groups, at the local vets and shops is also a good idea.”