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Are We Mistaking Friendly Cats for Strays?

14 November 2014

UK - One in five people (22 per cent) would assume a cat roaming in their garden was a stray and immediately take it to a rescue centre, the vets, into their home or even keep it as their own pet.

That's according to a YouGov survey published this week.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is encouraging cat owners to microchip their moggies following the results.

Almost 3,000 cats a year are brought to the animal charity – 46 per cent of which are classed as "strays" – and Battersea's London cattery is pushed to capacity because many of these suspected strays have owners but they're not microchipped with their details.

In the new YouGov survey conducted for Battersea, over one fifth (22 per cent) of people said that if they saw a cat roaming in their garden they would be likely to either take it to a rescue centre, bring it into their home, take it to the vet to see if it is microchipped, or keep it as their own pet.

Vets and animal charities like Battersea will always scan a lost animal for a microchip, but without a chip it becomes very difficult to reunite pets with their owners.

Lindsey Quinlan, Battersea's Head of London Cattery, said: "It's heart-breaking to see so many cats come through our doors which we truly believe have loving owners out there, but we have no way of contacting them.

"Only 15 per cent of the cats brought into Battersea have microchips. Cats that look like a healthy weight, have clean coats and are confident around people are usually not strays and are just out wandering around the neighbourhood."

Battersea's YouGov survey also revealed that a quarter of the population would assume a cat was a stray if it didn't have a collar, over one in four people (28 per cent) would think a cat was homeless if it ate food quickly, and over half (56 per cent) of the people surveyed chose options that Battersea would not recommend as good indicators of a cat being a stray.

Lindsey added: "The only way to truly tell if a cat is a stray is if it's malnourished, dirty or seen living in your garden.

"Sadly, cats with homes don't always wear collars or have microchips, and will very rarely turn down a free meal. So, animal charities across the UK must tackle this problem to make sure there is space for cats which are genuine strays or whose owners can no longer care for them.

"We're asking owners to get their pets microchipped because this survey has revealed concerned, but well meaning, people are literally taking cats off the streets and bringing them to us to find them new homes."

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