The RSPCA charity received 371 reports of cat cruelty in Somerset in 2021

By Susie Watkins

17th Aug 2022 | Local News

The mum and kittens in Ashcott
The mum and kittens in Ashcott

The RSPCA has released new figures which reveal seven cats a day suffer at the hands of humans and this is expected to increase during the summer months.

Over the last six years (2016-2021), there were 16,212 incidents of deliberate cruelty towards cats reported to the animal welfare charity which equals a staggering seven cats a day suffering at the hands of humans. In 2021 alone, there were 1,387 reports of intentional harm to cats and this peaked during the months of July and August.*

Overall, there were 17,804 complaints made to the charity regarding cats in 2021 from abandonments, poisonings, mutilations, shootings, beatings and neglect. This includes 371 reports in Somerset alone.

The RSPCA also fears that new figures showing a recent boom in the kitten trade could see a worrying rise in unscrupulous breeders putting profits before welfare and could spell further cruelty to cats.

In the last five years, there were 825 reports made to Trading Standards, council officers who enforce consumer protection laws, across England and Wales involving kitten related complaints. Compared with 2017 figures there was a 185% increase in 2021 regarding the buying and selling of kittens**.

David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said: "The demand for pets soared during the pandemic meaning backstreet kitten breeders have been able to make more money out of flogging pets online. We normally see a rise in kittens being sold at this time of year and coupled with the cost of living crisis, sadly we could see a boom in the kitten trade this year as a result. If you are considering buying a kitten, we would urge people to use the Kitten Checklist."

To help prevent suffering the RSPCA has launched its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign which aims to raise funds to keep its rescue teams on the frontline saving animals in desperate need help as well as raising awareness about how we can all work together to stamp out cruelty for good.

Sam Watson, cat welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: "It's awful to think cats are suffering deliberate cruelty and to know that an average of seven cats every single day are suffering at the hands of humans is really distressing. Cats are one of the most popular pets in the UK with an estimated 10.5 million pet cats in UK homes but sadly they are the second most abused pet - after dogs. 

"Tragically, we see hundreds of animals that come through our doors every year who have been subjected to unimaginable cruelty - being beaten, thrown across the room, had bones broken, been shot at, poisoned and drowned.

"As well as being hurt by their owners, cats are also more vulnerable as they tend to be out and about on their own which can leave them vulnerable to airgun attacks and other forms of cruelty by complete strangers."

Case study - Ashcott

A mother cat and her kittens were found abandoned in a cat carrier beside a road in Somerset last June.

It led to an RSPCA investigation after the grey and white female cat was found with her seven grey and white kittens beside an open cat carrier which had been left at the side of a road in Ashcott.

RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer Ali Sparkes said: “A member of the public found these beauties in a hedge near a farm in the village of Ashcott. An open cat carrier was found nearby. 

“The mother was young and very thin and the kittens were just a few weeks old. Sadly one of the kittens passed away but thankfully six have survived.

The cats were taken to RSPCA Brent Knoll Animal Centre where they were found new homes.

The mum was named Clementine and her kittens were called Marzipan, Crumble, Gingerbread, Eccle, Fairy, and Genoise.

The RSPCA receives around 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month and investigates 6,000 reports of deliberate animal cruelty, including animal fighting and hunting. But in the summer*** calls rise to 134,000 a month - three every minute and reports of cruelty soar to 7,600 each month - a heartbreaking 245 every day. 

The RSPCA's rescue teams need support to stay out on the frontline as the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty. 

  • £2 could help to provide a meal for a cat or dog in our care
  • £6 could help pay to feed a dog for a day in our care
  • £10 could help pay towards bandages for a cat or dog
  • £15 could help pay for a cat or dog's clinical exam
  • £20 could help pay towards a bird catching kit
  • £30 could help pay for a life jacket for an inspector
  • £100 could help pay towards water rescue equipment
  • £500 could kit out a 4x4 inspector van

If you cannot donate, there are other ways you can help Cancel Out Cruelty, from volunteering with the RSPCA, holding a bake sale or fundraiser, or taking part in the #50MilesForAnimals challenge.

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