Cats Protection, the UK’s leading cat charity, said it has already seen the number of cats on its waiting lists grow by 20 per cent compared to this time last year, with fewer people adopting cats.
It carried out a new survey of 2,000 owners and found nearly a third (29 per cent) are struggling with the finances needed to support their pet.
One in eight (13 per cent) of cat owners have or would cut down their cat’s daily food intake to save on costs and two-thirds (65 per cent) are worried that people will not be able to feed their cats this winter.
The charity has launched a “Feels like home” campaign to appeal to cat lovers to become fosterers or support it with a donation.
All funds raised through the appeal will help provide temporary homes for cats who have been given up for adoption.
“No one wants to have to give up a beloved pet, but the cost of living crisis is having a disastrous effect on cats and their owners,” Peter Shergol, Cats Protection’s head of field operations, said.
“Many are facing extreme choices such as rationing food or giving up their much-loved cat entirely. This winter could see an unprecedented number of cats and kittens being given up to charities, or worse still, abandoned in the cold and left to fend for themselves.”
He added that the charity does its best to help people keep their pets, but “we urgently need an army of cat fosterers to help us ensure no cat is without a place that feels like home this winter”.
Interested fosterers do not require any special equipment to take a cat into their homes temporarily apart from a spare room or outdoor space, the charity said.
Cat pens and other support including cat food, litter, toys and more will be provided by Cats Protection.
“We are particularly keen to hear from people in Essex, Kent, Northern Ireland, Suffolk and the West Midlands where we have the most pressing need for volunteer fosterers,” Shergol added.
In order to become a fosterer or make a donation, members of the public are encouraged to visit the Cats Protection website.