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Cats & Covid-19 in Shropshire

Gyrn Cottage Cattery

AN IMPACT ON THE CAT POPULATION OF SHROPSHIRE – NOW AND IN THE COMING MONTHS.

PEOPLE THAT MAY BE AFFECTED

  1. Single people who live alone and have no one to care for their cat(s) should an emergency occur. Young or old.
  2. Unemployed – no money to feed the cat, pay for vet fees.
  3. Those made homeless – what will happen to the cat?
  4. Those with not enough money to feed the family or pay bills – what will happen to the cat?

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

  1. Will someone rather feed the cat and go hungry themselves?
  2. No availability at the Rescue Centres – *Most Rescue Centres are NOT accepting new cats at present.
  3. Is there information available about the cat – name, age, medical history, temperament etc. No information about a cat will put extra strain on any Rescue Centres who will have to pay for vaccinations, possible neutering etc.
  4. Abandoned cats may lead to an increase in the stray cat population.
  5. Are the cats vaccinated? This could potentially lead to the spread of disease through close contact with other cats or fighting leading to extra time spent at Rescue Centres using up scarce resources.
  6. Are the cats neutered? This may lead to a huge increase in the cat population and an increase in the numbers of feral cats. This may have a detrimental effect on the bird and small mammal population.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

  1. Set up a website so people can register if they need help or know of someone who does. Have a list of people and places that will offer advice, help and support. Pet shops, Vets, Catteries, volunteers willing to offer transport, foster carer etc.
  2. Identify single people with cats – social media, press, vets, pet shops, word of mouth.
  3. Make NAWTs ‘Tails of the Unexpected’ packs available to all pet owners. Via downloads from the website, email or printed out for those with no computers.
  4. Designate a Foster carer or named Cattery if a person has no support in an emergency.
  5. Vouchers for free pet food. Funded by supermarkets, pet shops, fundraising? It would be cheaper to supply free cat food to struggling pet owners so they can keep their cats. This will allow Rescue Centres to help those cats in genuine need. We are all facing such uncertainty over the future and stress levels are / will be very high – to have to give up a much-loved part of the family is quite frankly a heartbreaking decision that no one should have to make. This would have a detrimental effect on all members of the family – especially children whose lives have changed drastically with the closure of schools etc.
  6. Offer reduced or free vaccinations and neutering programs. Get veterinary surgeries involved and fundraise.
  7. Cats of people who are self-isolating can be collected by volunteers and taken to the vets.
  8. If the cats are vaccinated then they can be looked after in a Boarding Cattery. There are not enough Isolation spaces available in the Catteries for too many unvaccinated cats who may need looking after.
  9. Have designated Catteries that are willing to operate a “Pay what you can” scheme to help vulnerable people through this crisis. The Government is helping Small Business with grants so it is only right that they help others in return. These buildings are probably sitting there practically empty at the moment.
  10. Ask for volunteers to foster cats in their homes – this could also free up pens in Rescue Centres. It may be that people who are self-isolating or are unemployed for several months may benefit greatly from the companionship. Free cat food and veterinary care can be offered to those short of money. Again, this would be of great benefit to overstretched Rescue Centres and work out a lot cheaper in the long run. It would also be a way that those who wish to help others can do so without putting their health at risk.

ACTION

If we can put procedures in place NOW to help people and their cats then the future impacts of this unprecedented crisis can be lessened or even averted.

We are a nation of animal lovers and we have shown in the past few weeks that we are a nation of very kind-hearted people who want to help others.

I truly believe that there are enough people out there willing to help in any way they can to see each other through these very difficult times ahead.

This document is about cats, but can equally apply to any type of pet.

  • We don’t want exotic pets like snakes or reptiles etc let loose in the environment, so we should also put procedures in place to help their owners.
  • Dogs - Strays can form packs and pose a danger to humans, pets and livestock.

Written by Samantha Davis, Gyrn Cottage Cattery