Charity warns of surge in abandoned cats in London

Chips is being nursed back to health  (Celia Hammond Animal Trust)
Chips is being nursed back to health (Celia Hammond Animal Trust)

A charity has seen a surge in abandoned cats amid the cost of living crisis.

The Celia Hammond Animal Trust said that cats were being left outside its branches daily.

The charity said growing numbers of cats were being abandoned as people were struggling to feed their cats due to financial pressures.

The organisation, which has a branch in Canning Town, also claimed a shortage of vets due to Brexit meant people are struggling to get their animals neutered.

The founder of the charity, Celia Hammond, said she is anxious about how “a lot of animals are not being treated. No vets are taking patients and things are looking as bad as they were in 1995.”

During the 1990s, she was active in helping to control the feral cat population by running neutering clinics. From then, the situation in England improved, but things have since worsened again, she said.

Another cat at the shelter (Celia Hammond Animal Trust)
Another cat at the shelter (Celia Hammond Animal Trust)

She said that people are bringing in cats saying “I can’t afford to feed them any more’”.

Among cats abandoned was Chips, who was found outside the branch. When he was found, employees thought he was covered in dirt, but upon closer inspection noticed that he had been sitting in his own urine and that he was covered in grease.

The black and white cat is being nursed back to health by the charity.

 (Celia Hammond Animal Trust)
(Celia Hammond Animal Trust)

The charity said often people feel embarrassed about leaving pets such as Chips outside and so do not enter the building, and other owners move country or are simply overwhelmed by the responsibilities of taking care of their pets.

Ms Hammond said: “You can control a dog, but you can’t control a cat (or its whereabouts), especially since cats are breeding all the time. But we are unable to help people in this situation, which is heartbreaking for me.”

“This charity is my life, and it has been my life to work and rescue animals. I hope that people support us. We need people to adopt animals if they can afford to,” she added.

The British Veterinary Association has been contacted for comment.

Data it released in 2022 showed the number of EU vets registering with them who had come to work in the UK fell by 68 per cent from 1132 in 2019 to just 364 in 2021.

British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Anna Judson said: “There is a shortage of vets in the UK and whilst the Covid-19 pandemic, soaring pet ownership and the fallout from Brexit have all had a significant part to play, they only exacerbated existing recruitment and retention issues.

“Whilst rescue charities have sadly been reporting increasing numbers of owners giving up all types of pets, including cats, this has largely been a result of the cost-of-living crisis and where pet owners are struggling with the cost of caring for their animals.

“If owners have any concerns about neutering their pet, speak to your vet. They will take you through the options that best suit your needs.”