UK: Why are so many cats being poisoned?

A spate of malicious cat killings have hit the headlines recently, spreading fear among pet owners. But what’s behind the attacks – and how can we protect our feline friends from grisly deaths?

UK: Why are so many cats being poisoned?

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The question in the title was asked by a Guardian newspaper journalist. In his article he failed to answer the question, a defect that many who commented on the article detected and complained about.

I have decided to try and answer the question myself and refer to some of the comments as they shed light on what most perturbs people who don’t have cats but who live next to people who do. Most of the problems in the UK with respect to deliberate poisonings of cats come from this scenario; neighbours who allow their cats to wander into other people’s gardens (yards in the USA).

A pet complaint is defecating in the neighbour’s flower bed.  That upsets people who are not fond of cats.  In addition to that simple neighbour problem another oft quoted dislike about the domestic cat is that he/she spreads disease.  People who don’t have cats think that the domestic cat spreads diseases such as toxoplasmosis.  They see this as very definite health hazard via domestic cat faeces.

However, nearly everyone in the United Kingdom no matter how much they dislike certain aspects of the domestic cat and wish to prevent them entering their garden, will not poison cats.  That is a step too far but sadly some people will take that step. In the UK there are almost no guns and therefore the only shooting of cats is by air guns.

Awareness of these so-called cat hazards has been heightened through social media on the Internet.  People have become educated about the domestic cat far more than they were before the advent of the Internet and social media.

In addition, there are more domestic cats in UK than ever before.  To quote some statistics from the article written by the Guardian journalist: in 1965 there was an estimated 4.1 million domestic cats and in 2014 the figure at present is an estimated 7.9 million.

With respect to cat poisonings, the RSPCA say that they have increased from 862 in 2013 to 919 in 2014.  In 2015, to the date of this post, the figure stands at 767.

My conclusion, therefore is that the increased number of poisonings of domestic cats in UK is due to there being more domestic cats and a greater awareness of their existence and behaviour coupled with a distortion of the true facts, disseminated through social media, concerning, for example, toxoplasmosis (read the truth here).

There is a lot of misleading information on the Internet hidden amongst the true facts.  If a person dislikes the domestic cat they’re more likely to find their version of the truth in information which is derogatory towards the cat.  They are more likely to believe incorrect facts and a few of these people will act upon them to poison domestic cats in an  attempt to eradicate them from the area where they live.

In addition these people realise that the enforcement of the law is poor in the UK with respect to animal cruelty because it is not prioritised.  The police would say that this is because of cutbacks due to underfunding. The underfunding is due to the country’s large national debt and deficit which need to be addressed by the government. Poor enforcement encourages criminal behaviour.

The vast majority of people who commented on the above-mentioned article are decent and sensible and they suggest that people find alternative ways to deal with roaming domestic cats in their back garden in emphasising that poisoning domestic cats is completely unacceptable and of course against the law.  Suggestions for deterrence are commonplace such as squirting water and a recommendation that people dislike cats should calm down their rhetoric because they do tend to exaggerate what domestic cats are doing in the garden, “shit all over the garden”, when faeces are buried and quite rare.

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5 thoughts on “UK: Why are so many cats being poisoned?”

  1. Animal cruelty has never been prioritised by the police, so the budget cuts excuse is B.S.

    Cruelty investigations are primarily conducted by the RSPCA and privately prosecuted by them in the U.K. The police provide the legal authority (which the RSPCA lacks)to assist with arrests and seizures of animals.

    I’m well aware that the RSPCA isn’t perfect, but without them I dread to think how few cruelty cases would ever come to court. It’s a sad state of affairs when we have laws in place to protect animals and yet we still rely so heavily on a charitable organisation to seek justice for animals.

  2. The Guardian’s comment “the fatalities have been nationwide, from South Shields to Southport.” is rather misleading since those two towns are only 163 miles apart in an east/west direction in the North of England. Hardly nationwide.

    Whenever there is news of multiple cats being poisoned in the U.K., it always seems to occur in one or two towns and cities. This suggests to me that these poisonings are the deliberate act of one or more persons, rather than a downturn in the public’s attitude towards cats.

    The comments on the Guardian news story were better than the article itself. It was reassuring to read that even those who are unhappy at the presence/activities of cats in their garden, wouldn’t resort to cruelty. I’m not surprised at the humble water pistol being the most popular deterrent. It’s very effective at discouraging unwanted feline visitors.

    This was my favourite comment on that article;

    “Cats do not shit ‘all over’ your garden. I’m sorry, but it simply isn’t true. Cats are very shy and careful about where they defecate.

    Look, your garden is an outside space. You can’t keep it free of nature. Birds shit in it. Rodents shit in it. Things die and decompose in it. It’s the outside world. A little hidden cat shit isn’t doing anyone any harm.”

  3. I agree with Serbella and Dee. My cat will be protected as long as I’m alive. She goes out with halter and leash. Mostly, she and I just sit next to each other, after she’s eaten some grass, and sniffed enough to satisfy. Sometimes I let go of her leash, but I’m never far behind.

    She recently got spooked by a dog barking, and ran away from me, and was out of sight. But as I came back to our sitting spot, she was there waiting for me. Ahh, relief!

  4. Just another perk for having inside only cats. We, here, can trust no one. That docile looking old man next door is lacing cat food with rat poison. The U.K. is moving more and more in our direction. The safety of our cats is upmost.


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