Oldham experiencing 'cat crisis', animal charities claim
Oldham is experiencing a "cat crisis" with the largest number of emergency call-outs in England, charities claim.
The RSPCA said it was being inundated with calls to deal with neglected, maltreated, injured and stray cats in Greater Manchester.
It said, per 100,000 of population, it had more calls in Oldham (501) and Bradford, West Yorkshire (473) than anywhere else in 2015.
Birmingham and Manchester were third and fourth, the figures showed.
RSPCA veterinary director Caroline Allen said many of the injured or neglected cats brought in by their inspectors were strays.
She said: "Our figures show that Oldham is the area with the highest concentration of cat-related incidents per person. Sadly, we will never truly know why there is such a big issue here.
"Particularly in the summer months, animal charities are inundated with kittens with no one to care for them - many have been born in a garden shed to a cat that has not been neutered. Sadly others can be deliberately dumped by owners who did not expect their cats to give birth."
She said animal charities were struggling to keep up with the demand for space in their rescue centres and some had resorted to re-homing cats in "costly private boarding".
England cat crisis 2015
Cat emergencies per 100,000 people
The RSPCA took in 18,928 cats nationally, from 1 January 2016 up until 1 October, compared with 5,177 dogs.
In London, the borough of Barking and Dagenham had the highest number of call-outs, with 375 in 2015.
The figures were revealed in a report by the cat population control group, comprising the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, iCatCare, PDSA, The Mayhew Animal Home, Celia Hammond Animal Trust, and Wood Green.
The figures for 2015 show the number of cat-related emergency call-outs, per 100,000 people, so that different geographical locations could be compared.
By this measure, the areas with the highest number of RSPCA cat emergency call-outs were Oldham, Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester.
In London, the borough of Barking and Dagenham had the fifth highest call-out rate, with 375 call-outs.
Animal charities are calling on pet owners to neuter their cats to prevent unwanted litters.
Celia Hammond, of the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, said: "Attitudes towards animals in London have changed. We've been rescuing cats since the 1980s and we used to feel we were getting somewhere.
"But the past few years it's been really bad. People's financial situation has changed and they surrender their cats all the time, because they're downsizing, or moving to a property where they are not allowed to have pets.
"It's the bedsit culture, people get a cat and then in a few months, when they move on, or go travelling, they just throw the animal out. It's so discouraging.
"We had a couple recently come in who said they got a cat because they had a problem with mice. They brought it in here because they said the mice had gone now and they didn't need it anymore. It was purely financial and they didn't care about the cat at all."