Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which is 156 years old, tells us that for the first time they have rehomed more cats than dogs this year. So far, 200 more cats have found homes than dogs at the flagship animal shelter in Battersea, London.
Cat lovers might think that this is great news because people prefer cats to dogs but I think that it is a more subtle development than that.
Experts have put the development down to the massive popularity of online cat videos. We all know about these. You can’t miss them and neither can you miss the rise of the celebrity cat. It’s a phenomenon which is largely positive but there are downsides to it; without wishing to be too grumpy one downside is that sometimes people exploit their cats to make a fast buck but for the minute let’s put that aside and enjoy this moment when cats are in the limelight as being more popular in London than dogs.
Living as I do in London or very near it, I am convinced that another major reason why this development has occurred is because there are more flat dwellers in London and there’s more competition in the job market in London. People are working harder. People more commonly live in apartments. There’s a huge amount of construction going on in London at the moment and all of it is apartments and office space. So this surge in cat popularity is perhaps confined to London and environs.
Lindsey Quinlan, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s Head of Catteries is convinced that the reason for the increased popularity of cats at their animal shelter is because of the Internet’s endless reel of cat videos which have given the moggies the limelight (to quote her verbatim).
“We saw the first boom in feline rehoming in 2013, but their popularity has continued to rise with more people moving into flats, where it’s harder to keep a dog, and more Internet cat celebrities gaining their own social media fan bases.”
She does therefore also agree that there are more apartment dwelling cat owners in and around London. London is booming in terms of population growth and the job market. Some of these people will adopt cats.
Which brings me to another point namely that sometimes I wonder whether all the people who are working hard and living in apartments are the right sort of people to adopt a cat from the shelter. I don’t know. Perhaps I shouldn’t suggest that. However, cats are self-contained creatures it is believed and therefore they are able to cope alone but that is not entirely true to be honest. Yes, cats are independent-minded and relatively self-contained but they need the companionship of their human. They are domesticated. They need the social domestic environment to be fully contented. All day absences by the caretaker can lead to cat stress which in turn can result in symptoms such as over-grooming and cystitis.
Lindsey said that last year Battersea rehomed an average of nine cats and seven dogs per day. In 2014, at Battersea, there was a 30% rise in the number of cats being rehomed compared with the previous year. Based on the general trend the shelter will end up caring for more cats than dogs. Battersea was originally, for the first 23 years of its existence, a home for unwanted dogs. It was established in 1860 and cats were first admitted in 1883 when the name was changed from Battersea Dogs Home to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.