HUNDREDS of cat cruelty incidents were reported across Wiltshire last year, accoring to new figures from an animal welfare charity.

In many cases "these pets have been injured deliberately by their owners."

The RSPCA state that 237 cat cruelty incidents were reported across the county with 18,000 complaints made nationally. Of those reports, 1,726 were intentional harm incidents – approximately five per day. This is a 25 per cent increase from 2021.

Salisbury Journal: RSPCA cat cruelty figures are outRSPCA cat cruelty figures are out (Image: Photo Agency)

Head of the RSPCA’s companion animal department, Dr Sam Gaines said: “In many cases, these pets have been injured deliberately by their owners - the very people who are supposed to love and protect them. But cats are also more vulnerable as they tend to be out and about on their own which can leave them vulnerable to airgun attacks and other forms of cruelty by complete strangers.”

Cats may be one of the most popular pets in the UK with an estimated 11 million pet cats in the UK, but the RSPCA figures suggest they are the second most abused pet after dogs. 

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Dr Sam Gains added: “We see hundreds of felines come through our doors every year who have been subjected to unimaginable cruelty - being beaten, burned, thrown around, had bones broken, been shot at, poisoned and drowned.

“It is heartbreaking to think that five cats every day are suffering at the hands of humans - it really is appalling - but sadly the RSPCA knows all too well that this cruelty is carried out on a regular basis."

The cost-of-living crisis is also thought to be a contributing factor to an increase in deliberate harm to animals at a time when the cost of rescuing animals is at an all-time high and the RSPCA’s vital services are stretched to the limit.

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RSPCA chief inspector for Wiltshire, John Atkinson: “Right now, animal cruelty is happening in England and Wales on a massive scale and rising. It is heartbreaking that we are seeing such sad figures which show animal cruelty is, very sadly, on the rise.

“Each year, these reports reach its terrible annual peak in the summer months. The cost-of-living crisis also means the cost of rescuing animals is at an all-time high and our vital services are stretched to the limit.”

The RSPCA is running a Cancel Out Cruelty campaign. For more information, go to the RSPCA website