Today (February 24, 2015) is World Spay Day and animal charities are urging owners to get their cats spayed.
Thousands of female cats are also at risk of giving birth to unwanted litters causing problems for households and loading pressure on rehoming centres.
A new poll has found more than half (60%) who had experienced their cat having kittens would not let them have kittens again.
Nine animal welfare charities, which make up the Cat Population Control Group (CPCG) released the new figures after surveying cat owners in time for World Spay Day.
Almost a third (30%) of all the owners who had already experienced their pet having a litter of kittens said they found it harder than they imagined it would be. Many people found giving up the kittens the most challenging thing to do, with more than half of people surveyed (52%) experiencing difficulty in finding good homes for them, while 45% said saying goodbye to the new kittens was hard.
A quarter of cat owners surveyed chose to keep their kittens, but most found them homes with people they know. Sadly, 12% had to rely on rescue centres to take the kittens.
The charities are now urging owners to get their cats spayed. The procedure can prevent the cats from developing potentially deadly diseases of the ovaries and uterus. Male cats that haven’t been neutered are also more likely to roam and fight, putting them at risk of injury, infected wounds and contracting diseases.
Nicola Martin, head of pet health and welfare for PDSA and spokesman for the CPCG, said: “Cat owners can have a romanticised view of letting their cat have kittens, but the reality of looking after the litter can be very different.
“A common misconception is that cats should be allowed to have one litter before spaying them, but this simply isn’t true.
“As our research has shown, most owners would be reluctant to let their cat have a second litter of kittens having gone through the process once.
“Our advice is to have female cats spayed at four months, before they attract the attention of local tom cats.”
CPCG comprises Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, Celia Hammond Animal Trust, International Cat Care, The Mayhew Animal Home, PDSA, RSPCA and Wood Green, The Animals Charity.