In Times Of Austerity Why Are Cats First To Go?

By Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Many families are being hit by austerity and are finding it hard to manage on the money they have coming in, but WHY are the cats in the family the first to lose their homes?

Why are cats first to go in times of austerity
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Hardship is being endured by some people, mainly unemployed people, but here is the worst thing about this, most of the people who say they can’t afford to keep their pet cat any longer can still afford to smoke and they have a TV, a computer and other non essentials.

  • Do they really need a huge TV set with subscriptions to Sky TV?
  • Do their children really need a computer each?
  • Do they need to smoke? Drink alcohol?

Are material possessions and their own pleasures worth more to them than a living breathing animal? It seems so!

Just this week one person said that if things didn’t improve, the cat would have to go, not the dog, no, he didn’t cost as much to feed as the cat. It makes me wonder what the dog is being fed on. But in reality the truth is that the dog is more valued than the cat!

My heart aches for that poor cat soon to be homeless through no fault of her own and for all the other cats being cast out of the family too. They must be frightened and bewildered, in a strange place with no home comforts and not much chance of being adopted out because all Animal Sanctuaries are overflowing right now.

How can people add to this terrible situation by relinquishing their pets….. part of the family? Surely even if they don’t have an expensive lifestyle or possessions they could give up, they could budget for cheaper meals for the family and have enough to spare to feed their cats.

Yes, dogs are being relinquished too but not half as many as cats. Why are cats seen by some people as second class citizens?

Those people don’t give a thought to how the Shelters afford to feed more and more animals every day and pay their vets bills. Shelters get no free veterinary treatment from charities like the PDSA, which people on a low income can get.

Then when/if times improve will those people go back to the Shelter and reclaim their pet if he hasn’t been adopted? I doubt it, they will probably get a new pet, the old one forgotten.

The ‘I can’t afford to feed it’ excuse has taken over from the ‘my child is allergic’ excuse. Food banks for pets would be one solution but would some people take advantage and claim free pet food when they could well afford to buy it if they budgeted more wisely and cut out luxuries?

I think some would, because I’ve seen unemployed/unemployable people here getting free bags of groceries from food banks and returning home laughing, with a cigarette lit in their mouth. I think the only reason a pet should EVER be relinquished for good is that the caretaker is physically unable to care for him/her any longer

I personally would eat dry bread for every meal rather than part with our cats.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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59 Responses

  1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Yes and that poor dog we fed and who was ‘so much loved’ was soon cast out when her new boyfriend came along because he was banned from keeping pets and she chose him over her ‘baby’
    Thankfully he has a good home now, all cats and dogs aren’t as lucky.
    The point is that she could have afforded to feed her dog properly but chose to spend her benefit money on luxuries instead and there are many more like her.

  2. Barbara says:

    Hardship is being endured by some people, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s mostly by those of us who don’t have much to start with. But the difference is what one considers priority in their life. It must be hell to be unemployed these days for the people who are genuinely looking for work, the humiliation of having to apply for a set number of jobs per week, even though they know there are no jobs available, must be horrendous, I feel sorry for those people. But let’s not pretend that there aren’t some people who glory in being jobless and who sit back and wait for the giro or the BACS transfer of money into their account and who’s aim in life is but to take, take, take and give nowt in return. It seems that nowadays it’s politically incorrect to even mention the fact that, yes, there are parasite in our society who don’t work, won’t work and will never work and it is these people who, in my opinion, are the ones who so casually get kittens or pups “for the bairns” and who value them so little that come the day the job centre puts a sanction on their money and they have to go to the food bank or take out a loan chucks out the now half grown kitten or pup, to a sanctuary maybe if it’s lucky, or onto the streets, or maybe gives them to a friend of a friend because they couldn’t care less, they see them as animated fluffy toys and oh so replaceable because after all they’re free to good homes. These same people have satellite dishes outside, they have the local pizza parlour or Indian takeout vans knocking at the door to deliver their supper, they have the parcel man knocking on the door with the latest leggings or whatever off the home shopping pages, they might have the baccy man calling with the makings of roll-you-own fags, they have £10-for-3-minute tans but they can’t afford to feed the cat or dog, I KNOW this from experience, earlier this year we gave dog food regularly to someone who answers this description perfectly,not for her sake but because the dog was hungry and was being fed with bits of pasties which was upsetting his tummy of course. Of course there are people unemployed who genuinely love and care for their pets and who would be heartbroken to lose them and I think these people would move Heaven and Earth and starve themselves and still never even think of getting shot of the cat or dog just to keep food in their own mouths, but the scenario Ruth describes in the poster DOES happen and always has, Vicky you volunteer for one rescue and in your opinion this is not the problem but I think you would find it’s a hell of a problem if you looked into it more deeply. My sister and I have been involved with animal welfare for a long, long time, she for around half a century and me for around 40 years so we’ve seen and heard pretty much all of it. We’re all here because we love cats and not to score points off each other, we’re all worried about the welfare of cats, we all want to do what we can and this is what Ruth does well, she highlights problems and all these comments raise money bit by bit which Michael kindly donates to cats wherever help is needed most. I think it’s a great article and poster and I think things like this need to be said.

    • Vicky says:

      Exactly, my experience and my opinion, which I stated in my first comment where I said I agreed in principle, and was berated for. The problem in rescues at the minute comes from the throwaway, irresponsible society we live in, which does not only include the unemployed. The recession has hit a lot of people hard, that cannot be denied, my son has JUST found work after 2 years of searching after completing his A Levels, and even that is only a temporary seasonal job. But believe me there are those in work and who have enough money who think it is acceptable to drain money from rescues not only by deciding they don’t want their animals anymore but by trying to take advantage, and that is not just from my experience with CP but my friendship with a Staffie Rescue and a vet nurse who had her own rabbit, guinea pig and cat rescue in Essex until early this year. Like I said there are people on benefits who will play the system for everything it is worth and give an appalling name to those in genuine need, but those in genuine need are there, they are just hidden by all the media stories etc of the idiots who have never worked a day in their lives, and unfortunately those idiots are creating a cycle of benefit dependants to carry on the appalling name.

      • Michael says:

        Vicky, I agree that it is bloody tough for some really genuine and good people. I wouldn’t want to be a 20 year-old today. Too tough.

        People should factor in the hard times. If they think it might be tough ahead, don’t adopt a cat. There has to be some “fat” in the personal budget to cope with hard times allowing you to keep the cat you adopted in the better times. Planning helps.

    • Michael says:

      the difference is what one considers priority in their life

      Yes, it is about that. It is all about that. People should learn to prioritise life – their cat – above bloody Sky TV and the car.

      I understand that is is hard, very hard for some people. I am lucky. But….I know if I was broke, I’d be broke with my cat. In fact, I would rely on Charlie to help me feel better if I was broke.

      • Rose says:

        Yes Micheal you’d be broke with your cat like I would with my cats if I lost my job.The old folk I go in and see to are the same it’s the younger generation who have to have the modern stuff they think is essential and alright if they get a job and can afford it but some expect to have it all given and they put that stuff before their animals.
        There are a lot where I live don’t work don’t want to work say they can’t afford to feed their pets and going to get rid of them.
        It upsets me I don’t mind helping the old folk out but why should I help those young and fit but I do if I can because I put their pets first like they should but I can only do so much.

  3. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Lovely to see so many comments and all the 5 cents racking up for the October cat charity donation, thanks everyone 🙂
    Thanks to Michael too for all the wonders of PoC.

  4. Vicky says:

    I tell you what Rose, you come and return some of our phone calls for a couple of weeks, then tell me that the main excuse is financial reasons.

  5. Rose says:

    Quote from this….
    “People are having to give up certain luxury things and animals are one of the first things to go’

    • Vicky says:

      Another quote from that

      “We never get people who come in wanting to give up their pets. They have done a lot of soul-searching.

      “The animals are a part of their families and no-one wants to give them up unless they need to. They aren’t doing it on a whim – they’ve tried everything else.

      • Rose says:

        Right so it IS for financial reasons then huh

        • Vicky says:

          Rose on October 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm said:
          I know what Ruth does “Vicky in the frontline” and has done all her life and admire her very much and it did read to me that you are criticising her blog and now backtracking from “only” unemployed people to “mainly” unemployed people.

          Seems you have a problem with me Rose, I come onto a thread and have a debate about something that I know quite a lot about and you go on the attack? I don’t care how you read it, did you not notice the part about “the government and media” setting person against person or are you just looking for a reason to have a go at someone?

  6. Vicky says:

    I see the calls we receive every single day, that is where my info is from, and they are still the same excuses of babies and allergies and my personal favourite “peeing all over the house” … it is VERY rare we get a call for financial reasons like I said.

    • Dee (Florida) says:

      I wonder if there are people who are too embarrassed to admit they are in financial straits.
      I don’t find that to be a very acceptable reason to forfeit a cat, but I thinks it’s a better excuse than “peeing all over the house”.

      In my mind, if someone is financially in trouble but are determined to keep their cat, they will find a way. If they don’t know of resources, they need to ask and learn. If the footwork is too much for them, then they really don’t care about their cat.

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        You hit the nail right on the head there Dee, they would find a way to keep their cats if they truly cared, they don’t part with their children who depend on them, so why part with their pets who depend on them also. Both are family!

      • Vicky says:

        I think the majority of the time they just don’t want the cat anymore, Dee. Our waiting list at the minute is full of “child is allergic” “cat has become aggressive.” “moving house, landlord does not accept pets” “new baby on the way” I’ve even seen on those appalling selling sites people giving away their cats because they just got a new dog and the cat isn’t liking the dog being there. Or we will get people ringing in saying they need us to take their cat for x reason and y reason, then a couple of months later getting in touch as they want a neutering voucher for a kitten they just got. It is unfortunately a throw away society and the ones with money are sometimes worse for just deciding they want a shiny new pet so let’s “get rid” of the old one 🙁

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          I think you’re right, Vicky. They just don’t want them anymore. I don’t understand that; but, I think I can at least give them a little credit for calling you instead of abandoning them.

          • Vicky says:

            Some of them yes, then you get the ones who become abusive when you say you don’t have the space and threaten to have the cat put to sleep if you don’t take them, that sense of entitlement again. Would be nice to be able to magic up room, but it’s impossible.

            • Dee (Florida) says:

              I wish there were some sort of divorce court for those sort of people.
              If they want to give up a pet (a dependent), then they would required to provide for it the remainder of their lives financially. There would probably be a lot more people willing to foster if expenses were deferred.

              • Vicky says:

                Fosterers for Cats Protection don’t have to pay for anything, all the cats food, litter and vets fees are paid for by Cats Protection. It’s a shame that more people don’t come forward to do it despite that fact, as the more fosterers a branch has the more cats they can help.

              • Dee (Florida) says:

                Cats Protection sounds like a dream to me. You are so lucky to have them.
                So, I see what you mean. Why aren’t there more fosterers?

              • Michael says:

                You’re like me. You see equality between animals and the human animal. Most people don’t see that.

              • Vicky says:

                Can’t see the reply button for Michael’s comment about fostering. Best thing to do is get in touch with your local Cats Protection, not sure which one it will be but if you google Cats Protection and your area your local branches will come up in search. If they are anything like the North East branches they will be crying out for more volunteers.

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          It makes me crazy when I see someone “trading in” a pet like a car!
          I saw a neighbor do this with 4 dogs one time until he found one that “suited him”.
          You just know I didn’t shut up about it either! I learned
          “hissing and spitting” from my true ferals!

          • Vicky says:

            This is one of my major bugbears, Dee. There are buy sell SWAP animal groups on Facebook and it makes me so damn angry. The buying and selling is bad enough but swapping animals, there is no excuse for it.

            • Dee (Florida) says:

              OMG! I can’t even begin to go to those sort of sites. I would be infuriated!
              I might become one of those “crazy cat people” and stalk like demented Woody!

              • Vicky says:

                The fact that a social networking site like Facebook allows animal sales groups, pages and profiles in the first place is utterly ridiculous. People see an opportunity to let their animals breed because they know these places exist to advertise the litters, yes Gumtree (I LOATHE Gumtree) has been doing this a long time but in Facebook people see an easy way to reach people in their area and make a quick sale. Seeing the same people time and time again advertising animals makes me sick, Facebook needs to put a stop to people doing it, any animal advertising on there should be banned.

              • Dee (Florida) says:

                Vicky, don’t view those things anymore, for your own wellbeing. I haven’t and I feel like crying just from your description.
                Facebook won’t suddenly change and gain integrity or scruples.
                Sometimes, the only thing we can do is protect ourselves and do what we know is right.

  7. Rose says:

    Fabulous poster as always Ruth and straight to the heart of the situation a lot of people don’t care about their cats as much as they do their dogs and care about neither as much as their must have TV and other “essentials”
    I have to agree that there is NO but NO excuse to give up your pet as long as you are physically fit and able to care for them.
    I don’t know where Vicky lives but browsing forums I see time after time people “can’t afford” their pets any longer and yes I’ve seen just this week on one someone thinks TV is essential and they NEED to smoke because of the stress of being so poor.
    The point about the struggling Animal Sanctuaries too those “have to have” TV people don’t give a thought to the cost of another place to find and another mouth to feed there and vets bills for their unwanted pet.
    My kids nor my cats would ever starve it’s my job and responsibility to make sure they don’t.

    • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

      Thanks Rose, yes too many people give up their pets for the slightest excuse, it’s heart breaking for those pets who have no idea why their family have abandoned them.
      How can anyone drop a trusting pet off at a Shelter and walk away?
      I don’t know!

  8. Vicky says:

    Also there are families who do not have any of the things in this picture. More and more are having to move into B&Bs because of the bedroom tax, children are going to school hungry and there was one story of a mother crying in a headmaster’s office as she had not eaten for 2 days so her child could have the little food they had left in their house. The government are scum and are punishing the already poor, I refuse to judge people in a situation where it is a choice between feeding their hungry children or their pet, as the decision to give up that pet who their children probably adore must be utterly heartbreaking. There but for the grace of god and all that.

    • Michael says:

      I think the promotional material pushed out by the government hides the reality. People are suffering (except for the rich – they always fly above hard times). Also, something the government never mentions: our national debt is huge and worse than Greece’s debt (“the highest projected European deficit”). I have a bad feeling about Britain. I believe that the worst is to come. With massive debt, eventually you sink unless it is trimmed back and this is not happening.

      Accordingly, there will be more relinquished cats in the future.

      That said, I have to slightly disagree with you, Vicky. I am sure there are some genuine cases of people having to relinquish their cat for real financial reasons. However, often it is a preference dressed up as a financial necessity.

      I hate governments and politicians but ultimately we, the people, have to run our own country and our own lives and that comes down to living within our means and prioritizing the most important things in a sensible and decent way. In general many people have failed to do this, for years.

      I believe that there are some poor people who are great cat caretakers.

      • Vicky says:

        But to suggest that the only people who are doing this are the unemployed is in my eyes very judgemental. The government and media are setting person against person and it is working. All this the poor can still afford computers etc, the real poor in this country can’t. We get plenty of calls from people in employment or who are making money selling animals lying to us, so the genuine poor are not the problem.

        • Rose says:

          “But to suggest that the only people who are doing this are the unemployed is in my eyes very judgemental”

          MAINLY unemployed Vicky get your facts right like Ruth and Micheal and most of us do before we wade in and criticise a fantastic blog

          • Vicky says:

            Even mainly unemployed is incorrect. I work in the frontline of animal rescue, Rose, and I know our statistics.

            • Vicky says:

              Also, Ruth does findraising for our branch, so please keep your accusations of me criticising her to yourself, I am criticising the media for pushing that “fact” onto people.

              • Rose says:

                I know what Ruth does “Vicky in the frontline” and has done all her life and admire her very much and it did read to me that you are criticising her blog and now backtracking from “only” unemployed people to “mainly” unemployed people.

        • Michael says:

          In the UK most unemployed people live pretty well compared to most countries. I genuinely believe they can accommodate the expenses of looking after a cat if that is prioritised.

          • Vicky says:

            They really don’t Michael, I have a disabled child and have only recently been able to consider going back into work, and believe me I did not live well. I lived well enough so that my cats were fed, but I know people who can’t afford to heat their small flats so their children don’t freeze. There are some who live well by playing the system, but it is honestly a myth that the majority live well.

            • Michael says:

              Vicky, I understand what you are saying and when I say “live well” I mean relatively, compared to other countries.

              Romanians earn about £300 per month (£3,600 per year). In the UK benefits are capped at about £26,000. Romania is in the EU.

              Do you think people would give up their TV and their car before their cat?

              • Vicky says:

                I have no argument with the fact that there are people who need to get their priorities straight and put their animals before inanimate objects, my issue is the fact that this is not limited to people who are unemployed. It is the throwaway society we live in. I spend time trawling buy and sell pages reporting people for selling animals online, but it is getting harder by the day as there is advert after advert showcasing the greed of people over the welfare of animals. We have people in detached houses with 2 cars asking us for neutering vouchers, the greed and sense of entitlement of a lot of people who have the means to pay for things but don’t feel they should is getting worse.

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            Yes you are right Michael, the unemployed around here and there are a good few, get rent free houses, council tax paid, free prescriptions etc etc, including the druggie/criminals who make themselves unemployable. They have Sky TV dishes outside their homes, run a car, smoke, I’ve seen it here in our street with my own eyes. They can well afford to keep their pets if they can afford all those things!

            • Dee (Florida) says:

              Same over here, guys.

              • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

                Is it really Dee?
                Not all the unemployed of course, some have their self respect

              • Dee (Florida) says:

                For many, our government has made it easy for them NOT to work. They’re better off – free food, susidized housing, free healthcare, and no taxes to pay.
                The entire system is flawed, easy to manipulate, and needs some serious revamping.

            • Michael says:

              Absolutely. People don’t know what real hardship is. I am not being judgmental. I live fairly well but back in the old days, when I was a kid, we lived far less luxurious lives. People expect too much today.

              I feel that the norm or average 50 years ago was the level of people on benefits today.

      • Rose says:

        yes there certainly are and I know some of them with caring for old folk like I said

  9. Vicky says:

    While I agree with this in principle it is very rare we receive phone calls to take cats in for financial reasons, the excuses are usually far more trivial than that.

  10. Dee (Florida) says:

    No truer words were ever written, Ruth AKA.
    Awesome poster!

    One very positive thing that is happening here has to do with a charitable group called “Meals on Wheels”. They make and deliver hot meals to shutins and the elderly in need. They figured out that the people were feeding their pets from what they were given and depriving themselves. So, now, they are delivering animal food with the meals. I love it!

    • Rose says:

      That is good Dee I think we could do with that here our old folk get meals on wheels how great it would be if they got their pets meal delivered too.
      I am a home carer to old folk and it touches my heart that what they have they share,they don’t get rid of their pets,they’ve known and survived worse times than these.

    • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

      Thanks Dee, I do enjoy designing posters to go with the article.
      What a good idea about delivering animal food along with peoples, that would so much help the genuine in need people of which most are elderly or housebound.

  11. I was just a tourist in England and hence can’t comment on English culture much but have understood a lot about the condition of pets by reading “P.O.C”. My view is that “PETS” are very expensive to maintain in “First World” country’s due to various laws as well as the high cost of veterinary care. It shocked me to read on “P.O.C” of a Veterinarian charging approx 700 Pounds(Rs 70,000) for a night visit to treat a cat.The same type of medical costs were also confirmed by Marc from Switzerland on “P.O.C”.”Cat Food” is also expensive and hence the average unemployed Britisher would not think twice of handing over his pet cat to a cat shelter unless they truly love their pet akin to their own human kith & kin.In India a person can just abandon a pet on the street and the same happens on numerous occasions.Its a sad fact that most people irrespective of race, Country, religion or sex consider their pets disposable commodities and hence numerous abandonment of pets in First World Country’s and on the streets in developing Country’s.

    • Michael says:

      Two good points (a) it is very expensive living in England and particularly London and (b) despite the British being “animal lovers” there are some who are not animal lovers because as you say many people “consider their pets disposable commodities”. I don’t see that changing for a long time.

  12. Michael says:

    This is a sad page for me (another great poster, though). People still don’t respect the cat enough or any animal for that matter. We don’t grant them sufficient importance. For some the 40″ TV is more important. Perhaps Coronation Street is more important than their cat.

    Inanimate possessions are more important than living companions for some. There was a debate in the House of Lords about animal testing recently. It was about labelling of products. I heard some of the debate and not once did any of the Lords put forward the argument that if people want to test products that will be used by people, why can’t they test them on people?

    That question is considered absurd, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the relationship between people and animals.

    • Rose says:

      It often comes up why can’t they test stuff on convicted criminals rather than animals and I agree why can’t they?
      Oh I forgot silly me even evil humans have rights and innocent animals don’t.

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