The 21st August 2021 is International Homeless Animals Day, which was introduced by The International Society for Animal Rights in 1992 (2). It is a day dedicated to raising awareness and improving conditions for homeless animals, so we thought it a great opportunity to shed some light on the homeless cat problem in the UK; and also to introduce the three rescues we have within the KatKin family.
It is estimated that there are over ten million homeless cats in the UK(1). Of these, over 10% are feral(1), which means that they shy away from human contact and prefer to live independently of people. The rest are classified as strays, which are more tolerant of, or even reliant on people. Many strays previously had homes, but then either were abandoned or got lost. To put these figures into perspective, according to a survey by PAW, there are approximately 10,7 million pet cats in the UK(3)- which means that for every owned cat there is a cat without a home.
Cats are the most frequently rescued animal by the RSPCA(4). The RSPCA promotes sterilising cats at four months old to combat the overpopulation crisis. According to a survey by PAW in 2018, 9% of owned cats were not sterilised (that equates to nearly a million unsterilised, owned cats in the UK)(4). They also found that over 9% of owned female cats had at some point had at least one litter by accident(4). Early sterilisation may indeed be a good way to help combat the population crisis, as one unsterilised female cat can produce in the region of 18 kittens per year!
On the flip side of all those morbid statistics, there is some good news- namely, Snaggles, Reggie and Gorbachev. These are the fine characters who head up the rescue sector of the KatKin family, and we thought that there is no better time for their 15 minutes of fame, than right now.
Snaggles was rescued by our in-house vet, Dr Grant Hampson (you may know him as the main vet from our Instagram lives; who has a great sense of humour and a brilliant head of hair);
Gorbi was rescued by another of our vets, Dr. Caity Venniker (writes lots of blogs; claim to fame training Gorbi to high five);
And Reggie was rescued by Emma Corbett, our Customer Champion (and general champion, Emma is a KatKin information whizz and may have helped you if you’ve had any queries).
Here’s what their humans had to say about them…
How did your rescue cat come into your life?
Grant: I was working at a practice as a vet student and Snaggles was there. He was small and underweight, and they tried to convince me to take him, but I was about to go abroad to do some charity work. I got back a few months later and he was still there. I’d seen so many abandoned animals while I was away, so I decided to take him home.
Emma: I adopted Reggie from Mayhew Rescue Centre in April 2018. Reggie (then Gavin!) was so sweet that I reserved him the day I met him and took him home that weekend.
Caity: My husband found Gorbi while out on a run, at death’s door on the side of the road. We think maybe he got caught inside a car engine, because he had a lot of burn wounds. His eyes were swollen shut and he was really weak, which is how we managed to nurse him, as he was very feral at the time.
What does your cat love?
Grant: Snaggles loves loves loves the garden and chasing butterflies.
Emma: Reggie LOVES food; cuddles in the morning; napping and playing.
Caity: Gorbi is obsessed with food and with my husband, Andy. In that order.
And what does he hate?
Grant: Snaggles hates having his nails clipped and being brought in from the garden.
Emma: Reggie doesn’t like builders, or the doorbell, or tin foil!
Caity: There is a cat in our neighbourhood called Beau. Beau and Gorbi are not friends.
Describe your cat in five words?
Grant: Goofy, loveable, peculiar, vocal and perfect.
Emma: Cuddly, chunky, greedy, cheeky, sleepy.
Caity: Clever, playful, uncoordinated, eager, emotional.
Do you think his past has affected the cat he is today?
Grant: Snaggles is very scared of new people and loud noises, but over time has become more and more confident.
Emma: It’s hard to say – he is quite nervous of new people (and the doorbell) but he does come to make friends, and wins over even people who aren’t big cat fans! I wonder if his over-eating is from being a stray.
Caity: I think Gorbi’s cat food obsession is from his life on the street – he will drag entire loaves of bread off the counter if we don’t watch him! And he once got stuck into a lentil curry, which is just absurd for a cat. He also takes a while to warm up to people.
Where is his favourite sleeping spot?
Grant: The garden planter.
Emma: Probably the laundry bin in our bathroom at the moment… But basically anywhere that wasn’t purchased for him as a bed!
Caity: Gorbi loves his rug next to a sunny window upstairs.
And finally, how did he get his name?
Grant: His tooth! His original name was Watson, but he has a snaggle tooth – so naturally I named him after that. His official title is Snaggles Watson the First.
Emma: I went on a Hip Hop Tour in New York and the guide’s name was Reggie. I thought it was a good name for a cat. Also, I have some paintings from my grandmother signed “REG” – those are her initials. So, he’s partially named after a former hip hop artist from NYC and partially after my granny!
Caity: Gorbi has a scar on his forehead, a bit like the birth mark of Mikhail Gorbachev. That’s it - they don’t have much else in common. He also gets called Gorbisnack and Snackattack quite a lot. He likes snacks!
There are a multitude of cat shelters and sanctuaries in the UK, notably Cats Protection and the RSPCA, among many others. The next time you are looking for a new furry family member, please do consider adopting a rescue, and saving a life.
Grant, K. (2020). The UK’s first ‘cat census’ has been launched to help keep the nation’s nine million strays ‘safe and warm’. I. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from: https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/first-uk-cat-census-cats-protection-help-strays-neutering-programme-143468
National Today. (2021). International Homeless Animals Day – August 21, 2021. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from: https://nationaltoday.com/international-homeless-animals-day/
PDSA. (2021). How many pets are there in the UK? PDSA saving pets changing lives. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from: https://www/pdsa.org.uk/get-involved/our-campaigns/pdsa-animal-wellbeing-report/uk-pet-populations-of-dogs-cats-and-rabbits
RSPCA. (2018). Cat crisis! Figures reveal cats as most rescued animal. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from: https://www.rspca.org.uk/-/2019_02_26_cat_crisis_figures_reveal_cats_as_most_rescued_animal