Cat owner’s desperate note to vet shows how Australia’s cost-of-living crisis affects cat welfare: ‘Sorry to have to do this’
NEWS AND OPINION– AUSTRALIA: Inflation in America 2023 is around 6%. In Australia it is around 8% and, in the UK, it is around 10%. Inflation hurts dog and cat ownership. Therefore, it hurts the animals and it probably leads to an increase in shelter animals being killed.
There is a really uncomfortable report from Daily Mail Australia about inflation resulting in a cost-of-living crisis which means cat owners have to cut back and abandon their cats. This means that shelters become full. It means shelters need more money to look after more cats which is not forthcoming. It means euthanising more cats. It is a very negative scenario if it is to believed.
Australia’s cost-of-living crisis
Australia has a cost-of-living crisis just like the UK. One cat owner left her cats at a veterinary clinic in Ryde, Sydney. She attached a handwritten note saying, “I’m so sorry to do this, I can’t afford to feed her anymore.”
Irresponsible cat ownership?
The cats have been taken to a rescue center called Mini Kitty Commune. The founder of that shelter says that it is going to cost AU$2000 to look after the cats. Yes, plural. This is not just about inflation. This is about irresponsible cat ownership.
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It seems to me that this woman allowed her female cat to breed. She abandoned a family of 7; 6 kittens and their mother. That is perhaps more of a problem than inflation.
I don’t want to be too harsh. I’ve probably upset someone but tough. However, if she had spayed her female cat, she would have had one cat to look after and that may have been affordable.
Of course, I’ve made the presumption that she allowed her female cat breed. She may have adopted them all but that’s unlikely. Either way she got herself into a position where she couldn’t afford to look after them.
Soft, self-indulgent attitudes
That begs the question as to what one should be thinking before you adopt a cat. You’ve got a budget when you adopt a cat. You’ve got to have the disposable income. You’ve got to be able to meet emergencies when your income is going to reduce. There should be some fat in a cat owner’s finances really. I know that’s being a bit tough but I think it’s time to be a bit tough.
Arguably there is a general softening in society. There is a lack of self-discipline and society. We need young people who are more self-discipline. In Asia it seems that the young teenagers are more self-disciplined in general than in the West where they become soft and pampered. This does not generate the right kind of attitude towards cat caregiving.
Looking after cat for the lifetime of the cat does take self-discipline and money. Quite a lot of money.
Drop off in donations to charities and more abandonments
To return to Australia. Derek Knox, the founder of Mini Kitty Commune states that donations “have dropped a staggering 80% since this time two years ago.”
Shelters are being squeezed at both ends. They get less donations because of the cost-of-living crisis and they get more cats because of more abandonments. And I suspect it is harder to place cats into new homes because people are resisting adopting a cat, once again because of the cost-of-living crisis in Australia.
The RSPCA has weighed in on this problem. They say that the average number of days a dog spends in their care has risen in New South Wales. In October 2020 dogs stayed 7.7 days and in March 2023 the average days 34.3 days. A sharp increase. They say costs AU$1000 per dog to look after them. Of course, the cost must increase as the length of stay increases.
The cost-of-living crisis and inflation has also fuelled housing problems. Purchasing houses from any has become impossible. That drives up the rental market. The rental market becomes expensive as well because of market forces. That squeezes young people again. This also puts the squeeze on cat and dog ownership.
And in Australia there’s been increased immigration and a surge of overseas students also forcing up rental prices.
Cause of inflation
The big question is what caused inflation in many countries after Covid? No one is really offered me a proper answer. One reason is that businesses are taking advantage of the fact that there is inflation so they have fuelled naturally occurring inflation by raising their prices unjustifiably. It is opportunism and it is socially irresponsible.
One reason for inflation is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And just after Covid market forces drove prices up. Part of the problem was that, in the UK, the government dished out so much free money on furlough and in grants that there was billions of pounds sloshing around society. During Covid people couldn’t spend it because of lockdown. There was a surge in spending without a commensurate increase in supply which forced up prices.
A lot of the inflation problems are due to bad government management in my view. They tend to hide from this.
Attitudes to cat ownership
And as usual, you combine that with sloppy cat caregiving and adoptions and you get cats being abandoned at shelters. When people adopt cats, it should be done with a great deal of seriousness and consideration. The needs to be injection of self-discipline into the cat world combined with a more responsible attitude. Yes, tough talk. It is time for it. Society is too soft in the UK and sense there is something similar going on in Australia.