Cats Protection: volunteers are complaining

Cats Protection Ryde UK

Photo: David Jones

Some former and serving volunteers at the charity Cats Protection are complaining about management decisions that are undermining the whole purpose of the charity, so states the Daily Mail. Can we believe this?

We are told that these so called whistleblowers are complaining that management have changed the charity’s policies and cutback on some essential services despite the charity’s income remaining healthy and stable at £62m, which makes the cutbacks difficult to understand unless the changes are about making the charity more efficient.

Spending on frontline services such as the quality of vaccinations and the inspection of potential cat adopter’s homes are being reduced or cut back.

The volunteers who have spoken out say that the charity is putting profit before cat welfare. If this is true, it sounds similar to the complaints about the RSPCA. Are charities becoming too profit conscious in a more competitive world?

The fantastic volunteers who are the backbone of Cats Protection request funds for services such as neutering and vaccinations. The volunteers who ran the Cardiff branch appears to have been over-efficient and too keen. They requested £12,000 to fund neutering services. The Cats Protection neutering service is a fundamental part of the charity. It is vital to slow the creation of unwanted cats. Apparently, the Cardiff branch was told they were doing too much neutering and were closed down as a consequence. It was a devastating shock to the volunteers there as you can imagine. The brach had been open for 23 years.

‘They said we shouldn’t have been neutering so many cats and that we were helping too many people, which was now unaffordable. So they were closing us down…

Some of the 8,500 staff have been made redundant and 7 branches closed. The general theme of the complaints from within the charity is that the funding is in place and the finances are healthy so why is management cutting back on what are considered to be essential services?

I have a huge admiration for Cats Protection. The story of Chester’s rescue and recovery highlights the excellent work they do for cats. As a result I find these complaints slightly difficult to accept. However, the volunteers are decent people so what they say should be taken seriously and acted upon.

The story appears to only come from the Daily Mail. All other sites that I have visited that report this story are just parasitic sites that receive news feeds and then link back to the source, in this case the Daily Mail.

My conclusion at this stage is that the Daily Mail have hyped this up. Cats Protection management may have been heavy handed but I sense that what they are doing is to try and spend the money more efficiently. We don’t have the full story. I could be wrong. Does anyone have some insider information?

Associated: Quiz on Cats Protection.

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Cats Protection: volunteers are complaining — 23 Comments

    • Thanks Ruth, this is an important link because it shows how newspapers can be so cynical and hype things up to the point where it is just not true.

      This does not surprise me at all.

  1. I can’t really comment – I was just a foot soldier and didn’t have visibility of what goes on at HQ.

    In general – for all charities – I’m not in favour of fat cat Chief Execs. That’s why I support local charities and some independent shelters (e.g. Avon Cat Rescue).

  2. It’s also possible that HQ have stopped paying an allowance to shelter wardens at branches and require the branches to fund wardens directly. Paid wardens would be “staff” on a payroll. This put me in a bind when I covered for a weekend warden’s holiday – I couldn’t accept payment (could affect my taxes), but HQ rules said they had to pay me (solution: I never cashed their cheques). If that rule has changed, then it will look as though they’ve axed staff.

  3. As with so many charities the best thing to do with your donation is to get it to the ones that really do the graft and that is the volunteers, not the ones who sit behind gleaming desks looking at spread sheets on computers, Ruth and I have been supporters of our local CP for many years and have seen first hand the absolute dedication of Marion and Steven, many a time using their own money in times of great need. I don’t think that CP headquarters realise that the great reputation of Cats Protection is built on the work that the branch co-ordinators and volunteers do, unpaid, day in day out year after year after year.

    • I think you have touched on something there Babz. Top management may be becoming a little complacent about the enormous value of the volunteers who are Cats Protection. Without them it would not exist. They need to be recognised, rewarded and encouraged.

  4. all branches are ran individually and nowadays are expected to self fund as much as possible, not all branches may agree with all CP policies but will try to adhere to them.
    If CP are out there signing up direct debitors and raising donations then they need to be making sure their policies are acceptable, saying “we don’t put a healthy cat to sleep” does not answer the point in the report re the guidelines, and dare I say it the fact that more aren’t PTS as may be more down to individuals branches interpretation, funds, and ethics.

      • Yeah – there we go again with the Mail. This has been a classic case of Mail spin here I think. It just sounded so brutal to begin with that I am not suprised it has needed some serious clarification (thanks to Sarah and Marion). Ruth made a good point too about where exactly to donate within the CP scheme – ie: locally where you want your money to go, not centrally.

        ….well at least we come out of this knowing what’s really going on 🙂

  5. (aagh, the text input box won’t work properly on some versions of IE!)

    It’s unrealistic to believe that every cat can be saved. Sometimes the prognosis or duration of treatment + chance of finding a home simply doesn’t the outlay and isn’t fair on the cat, and it ties up pens that could be used for homeable cats that end up being put down if there is “no room at the inn”.

  6. A few things. It’s not HQ closing down branches. Branches are mostly self-funding. That has to be understood when a branch is formed by volunteers. Branches are told not to over-extend themselves because HQ is not there to bail them out. Branches have come and gone, merged and split for as long as the CPL has existed. They have to manage their own finances and resources. Some qualify for HQ assistance (there used to be a finite number of grants issued if the branch met certain criteria).

    The policy is not to put down healthy cats. Branches may not have the resources to treat a cat whose prognosis is poor. Since the organisation was founded, branches have been told they are not “camping grounds” for long-stay cats. They are “transit camps” (this is out of old CPL guidelines). I’ve taken on some of the “no hoper” cases personally in the past.

    • Thanks a lot Sarah. You have injected some common sense into this. The Daily Mail story seems to have picked up on something small and made a sensationalist story out of it.

      I thought that was the case.

  7. I don’t know the rights and wrongs of all this but I do know that branches like ours struggle to raise funds to pay for the feeding, neutering, vaccination, microchipping and vet treatment of local needy cats and kittens.
    I would never donate to any HQ of any charity, always to a local branch who put every penny to good use and who take no expenses as no one is paid.
    Anyone donating, especially by regular direct debit, needs to ensure the money goes to the branch they support and where the volunteers work very hard on behalf of cats.

  8. Well closing down an entire shop is very drastic indeed. 12k isn’t even that much if you consider how much it costs to do the operations. It’s not much at all.

    ….and they got shut down?

    The daily mail is a right wing hate filled and hate fueled newspaper – and shockingly the only paper doing well right now.

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