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Is Wales on the verge of a cat crisis?

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Cat welfare has been a major focus for frontline RSPCA Cymru officers during the Covid-19 lockdown – with 386 incidents reported in Wales over the period.

Since the start of lockdown, up to May 4, there have been 6,630 incidents reported to the charity’s hotline about cats – including 386 incidents in Wales alone. Hot spots for Wales include Cardiff (40), Neath Port Talbot (36), and Swansea (32).

The new figures have been released as part of the animal welfare charity’s emergency appeal, launched to keep its frontline rescue teams working during the Covid-19 crisis.

Under the Welsh Government’s definition of key workers, the charity’s animal rescuers have continued on the frontline dealing with emergencies during the crisis, including coming to the aid of numerous cats in need.

Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the RSPCA’s companion animal department, said: “Our frontline officers will continue to rescue as many cats as we can and our animal centre staff, hospitals and branches will carry on caring for the many cats coming into our care throughout the crisis.

“We rely on donations from our generous supporters to carry out this vital work and need their support now more than ever as our services become stretched to the limit.”

Willow – Wrexham cat shooting. Credit: RSPCA Cymru

Incidents dealt with by the RSPCA since lockdown got underway include the launch of an appeal for information, following the shooting of a cat in Wrexham. Officers from the charity were alerted after a female cat, named Willow, was found to have a large air pellet lodged in the bone of her leg, near to the elbow joint.

St Mellons cat rescue. Credit: RSPCA Cymru

Meanwhile, the RSPCA has also been involved in the rescue of a number of felines – including teaming up with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to come to the aid of a cat stuck up a tree in the St Mellons area of Cardiff, and another stuck hopelessly up a tree in Cwmbran.

Cwmbran cat stuck up tree. Credit: RSPCA Cymru

Last year, there were 108,190 incidents reported about cats, including 6,678 in Wales.

Across England and Wales, the RSPCA cares for more cats than any other pet. More than 1,000 felines are currently in the care of the charity – as it faces a cat crisis.

Since lockdown got underway, up to May 4, the RSPCA has taken 324 cats into its care; again more than any other pet. There are now fears that the situation is set to get worse, as the traditional kitten season gets underway.

There is always an influx of kittens at this time of year. However, there are concerns that, amid lockdown, neutering of pets may have slowed, and the charity’s experts now fear they will see even more unwanted litters coming through its doors.

Dr Gaines added: “We are currently caring for more cats than any other pet throughout the coronavirus crisis.

“Every year, the scale of the cat overpopulation problem becomes even more apparent from May to September when most cats are born as the RSPCA is often overwhelmed with kittens. The kitten season this year will continue despite Covid-19 and so the charity is bracing itself for even more cats.

“We believe neutering cats from four months old will help tackle the cat overpopulation problem the UK faces. This will reduce the amount of unwanted and unexpected litters of kittens that are born and sadly end up in rescue centres.

“Many owners may not be able to get their pets neutered at the moment as understandably vets are prioritising emergencies in the face of Covid-19 and restricting other procedures. It is important to follow your vet’s guidance and understand if they cannot neuter your pet at this time.

“We would urge anyone with an unneutered female cat to keep them indoors. If you have a male/female pair or really can’t keep your cat inside, do call your vet to discuss options.”

The charity is currently caring for 1,013 cats (as of 13 May). Felines in the RSPCA’s care in Wales include Felix, who has recently been reserved by a new owner from the Newport Animal Centre. He came into the RSPCA’s care after becoming seriously injured in Neath – with X-rays letter revealing he had been shot with a pellet gun, and a rear leg had to be amputated.

Last year, there were 108,190 incidents reported about cats including 6,678 in Wales.

The RSPCA has plenty of information on how to keep your cat entertained indoors on its website. There is also advice on keeping pets happy and healthy during the coronavirus crisis.