AN ANIMAL charity has received more than 1,000 welfare calls about cats in Hampshire this year.

The RSPCA is concerned a boom in kitten buying could lead to more cats coming into rescue centres and needing new homes, as the charity reports there were 1,010 cat incidents in Hampshire this year.

Since the start of the year, the RSPCA has received more than 45,000 incidents relating to cats meaning there are lots of cats in our care looking for homes. The RSPCA would always encourage people to adopt a rescue cat instead.

During the lockdown, there has been a 114 per cent increase in the amount of people searching for cats to adopt on the RSPCA’s Find a Pet page compared to the previous year.

Many people have found they now have more time on their hands during lockdown.

However, the RSPCA is urging anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider whether they can care for them in the long-term - and not just for a pandemic.

Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, said: “It’s fantastic that so many people are interested in bringing a cat into their home this year.

"However, with such high increases in people searching for kittens online, it’s important that prospective owners are doing their research and not buying a kitten on impulse.

"This means making sure they have the time, money and resources to care for a cat for the rest of their lives, but also ensuring that if buying a kitten they are buying a healthy and happy kitten from a responsible breeder.

“It’s true that we see much higher cases of puppy farms than unscrupulous kitten breeders but it does happen which is why it’s so important to do your research and make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller."

Cats are popular pets with the charity rehoming 24,095 cats last year - one cat rehomed every 20 minutes across England and Wales and 419 cats rehomed in Hampshire.