The RSPCA gets catty and claims a surplus

Local branches of the RSPCA have been declaring a “Cat Crisis” around the country.  They claim to be inundated with cats and published articles imply that there are hundreds of cats at each branch in need of new homes.

Clicking on an article at random on 19th September, it appears that rehoming centres across the North are full of abandoned cats. Some branches and centres, the article claimed, have more than a hundred waiting for homes.

We went to have a look at the two centres mentioned, Great Ayton and Felledge, expecting huge numbers of moggies to be available for re-homing.

Great Ayton had 16 animals to re-home, of which 10 were cats.  Today it had 18 pets to rehome, of which 8 were cats.

Felledge had 26 animals to re-home, of which 13 are cats.  Today it had 35 pets to rehome, of which 20 were cats.

A report from Maidstone RSPCA claimed they were full, with 60 cats looking for homes.  But on their site only 17 cats were listed and about half were reserved.  Today there are 21 cats on their site, 8 of which are marked Rehomed, and one is marked ‘reserved’.

RSPCA Coventry claim to be full with 47 cats in care and another 200 on their waiting list.  But there are only 11 cats shown as available for rehoming.

RSPCA Rochdale is reported as full with around 70 cats housed there, but only 15 cats are available for adoption on their site.

Cross referencing the RSPCA branches and rehoming centres around the country to the claims made in articles publicising the ‘Cat Crisis’ it was clear that although ‘hundreds’ of cats were mentioned, in reality there were very few available.  (Equally puzzling was the lack of Staffordshire bull terriers looking for homes, but that is the subject of another post).

So what is going on?  Well, there are a few clues in the articles that have been appearing round the country but they indicate a strange collusion between local branches and centres whose main selling point to the donating public has been their independence from the RSPCA in Horsham.

Consider the following quotes:

RSPCA animal operations manager for the Midlands and North region, Peter Bolton, said: “The RSPCA is struggling on all fronts with this cat crisis. Our inspectors are being called out constantly to deal with sick, injured, neglected or abandoned cats.

“Our hospitals are full with injured cats whose owners appeared to have dumped them.

“We have more cats than ever who have been cruelly treated.

“Our staff across the region, whether they are in an RSPCA centre, branch, hospital or a field officer, are all saying the same – we are dealing with a cat crisis and it is getting worse.”

and

Paul Williams, branch operations manager for the south, said: “The RSPCA is struggling on all fronts with the cat crisis.

“Our inspectors are being called out constantly to deal with sick, injured, neglected or abandoned cats, Our hospitals are full with injured cats whose owners appear to have dumped them.

“We have more cats than ever that have been cruelly treated and our centres across the region are just full with cats and kittens needing new homes.

“Our staff across the region, whether they are in an RSPCA centre, branch, hospital or a field officer all say the same – we are dealing with a cat crisis and it is getting worse.

Confused?  Wondering if Paul Williams gave the quote or if Peter Bolton did?  Or if it was invented by someone at HQ?

There is more.

Alex Boothby, manager of Suffolk East Coast Branch let the cat out of the bag.  he said

“We are meant to keep spaces free for cruelty cases and we are struggling to do that at the moment. We have got cats coming out of our ears.

We know that the RSPCA no longer takes owner surrendered animals or strays.  They only take “RSPCA generated” animals.

Is this why the branches are claiming to have hundreds of cats but have hardly any available for rehoming?  Because RSPCA inspectors are targeting cats?

If there is a difference between the number of animals being held on behalf of RSPCA HQ and animals available for rehoming then the RSPCA, local or national, should be honest and say so.  The current situation is confusing and misleading.