25 million Americans will be more than $2,000 poorer each month. Will this affect cat ownership?

This is about the coronavirus pandemic in America. I’m told that almost half of all American adults are without a job according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Before the virus hit the figure was 38.8%.

Cat to human unconditional love. Human poverty does not weaken the bond of love between person and cat. It probably enhances it. However severe restrictions on money must affect cat welfare and there must be a limit. I may be stereotyping and if so I apologise. Picture: PoC.

25 million Americans will be more than $2,000 poorer each month after the withdrawal of the flat-rate boost to their unemployment benefit. Many of these people are already struggling even though they are receiving the additional emergency payments and the one-off stimulus checks that they received at the beginning of the crisis.

The picture is grim. About one third of American households failed to make their full mortgage payments for July and a fifth totally missed them. Food banks have experienced a surge in demand. Plans to get kids back to school are struggling to come into effect because the virus has not been contained.

There are negotiations on an agreement on further benefits but it may be too late and there may be a slew of homelessness on the horizon when the government moratorium on evictions expires next month.

All in all the budgets of millions of households are going to be incredibly tightly squeezed. Let’s turn to domestic cats. A lot of poor people are very good cat guardians. Their domestic cat companions are vital to their lives. However, we know that the reasons for relinquishing a domestic Include a change in owner circumstances. This reason ranks second below relinquishing a stray or abandoned cat to a shelter.

If some cats are not relinquished because of the cost of keeping them, it is not unreasonable to presume that the standard of care is likely to decline. Looking after a domestic cat is not cheap and is estimated at between 10,000 and $15,000 for the lifetime of the cat.

I don’t think cats can be regarded as a luxury by genuinely concerned cat guardians and therefore you won’t see a cat being relinquished for that reason but when push comes to shove and belts are tightened I fear that the numbers of relinquished cats to shelters will increase in the not too distant future.

Matthew Bershadker, the president and CEO of the ASPCA said that 40+ million Americans live in poverty and they love their pets. And he estimates that 25 million cats and dogs are also living in poverty. 52% of the ASPCA Animal Hospital in New York City clients live on $15,000 per year. They end up relinquishing their pet because they have run out of options and have no money. In one ASPCA study, it was found that 40% of low income cat and dog owners who surrender their companion animal to a shelter said that they would have kept their companion animal if they had had access to affordable veterinary care. Thirty percent said that they would have done the same thing if they had access to free or low-cost pet food.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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