As the cost of living crisis continues, cat owners said they have been impacted and are worried about veterinary costs.
It comes as UK-based feline welfare charity, Cats Protection, said it is seeing a rise in people giving up their cats for financial reasons and is warning there could be an animal welfare crisis as a direct result of the cost of living.
The charity has launched an online hub to support owners in need with a raft of information including how to look after your cat on a budget and how to access help with costs.
A survey from the charity showed one in three cat owners said they feel ‘greatly impacted’ by the cost of living crisis, while nearly one in five (18%) said they were spending less on vet services, including missing essential vaccinations or not microchipping their pet.
Meanwhile, 31% of cat parents said they are concerned about how they would pay emergency vet bills if their cat became sick or injured, with nearly one in five, or 18%, concerned about paying for routine vet treatment.
The charity says this represents tens of thousands of cats whose welfare could now be at risk.
The research also showed that 25% of pet parents said they are spending less on pet insurance due to the cost of living. At the same time, 17% are concerned about paying for insurance in the future.
Alison Richards, Head of Clinical Services at Cats Protection said, “We’ve launched a new information hub with lots of tips and ideas for looking after your cat on a budget, with everything from how to make free cat toys to how to access help with costs such as neutering. We want to provide access to information and resources that can help every owner look after their cat.”
The survey found cat parents have also reported cutting back on spending, with more than half spending less on eating out or takeaways, days out, clothes, drinking and holidays. Over half, or 60%, of cat owners feel their cat is a source of comfort to them during a difficult time.
Adoption centres are also seeing a rise in people giving up their cats for financial reasons.
Nicola Murray, deputy manager at Cats Protection’s Harrow Homing Centre, said, “The cost of living is having a greater impact on animal welfare than Covid. We’ve got desperate people turning up on our doorstep every week and our waiting lists for people wishing to give their cat up are several weeks long. People need more information and support for managing their cats during this time as no one should have to give up a much loved pet during a time of crisis.”
Another charity, Dogs Trust, is also aiming to help pet parents amid the cost of living crisis.
Plantbasednews reports that UK-based Dogs Trust has launched a petition to ask the government to drop VAT (value-added tax) on pet food, vet services, and animal medications for 12 months.
Survey data from Dogs Trust and YouGov showed that 31% of dog owners are worried about the cost of caring for their dog in the coming year. Over half, or 54%, of respondents said that managing veterinary costs would ease their concerns about looking after their dog and 43% said removing VAT on pet food would help them.
Charities such as the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) have also published guides on low-cost pet care.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) also has a hub online with advice for pet owners struggling to take care of their pets amid the crisis.