Charity workers dealt with more than 430 cases of cruelty to cats in Lincolnshire in 2021 alone.
The RSPCA has released new figures showing the alarming suffering of felines at the hands of humans.
Over the last six years (2016-2021) there were 16,212 incidents of deliberate cruelty towards cats reported to the charity, equal to seven cats a day.
When you add reports of abandonments, poisonings, mutilations, shootings, beatings and neglect, the number for 2021 rises to 17,804. 431 of these were in Lincolnshire.
Among the more tragic stories was the case of three young kittens who were found dead and dumped in bin bags in a Grimsby woodland.
The young cats – believed to be around nine or 10 months old – were discovered by a walker in Bradley Woods in August last year.
The finder took them to the Blue Cross where vets examined them.
Vets found all three cats – two black and white cats and one tabby – were thin.
RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell investigated the incident.
She said: “These three cats were still so young and it is really upsetting to think about what they might have gone through.
“When the vets at the Blue Cross examined their tiny bodies they found that all three were thin and starting to decompose so it is unclear how long ago they died or how long they were in the woods for.
“None of the cats had any visible injuries so vets think they may have been poisoned or drowned.
“All three of them were found in flimsy white bin liners with yellow drawstrings and dumped in the woodland.”
The RSPCA also fears that new figures showing a recent boom in the kitten trade could see a worrying rise in unscrupulous breeders putting profits before welfare and could spell further cruelty to cats.
In the last five years, there were 825 reports made to Trading Standards, council officers who enforce consumer protection laws, across England and Wales involving kitten related complaints. Compared with 2017 figures there was a 185% increase in 2021 regarding the buying and selling of kittens.
David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said: “The demand for pets soared during the pandemic meaning backstreet kitten breeders have been able to make more money out of flogging pets online. We normally see a rise in kittens being sold at this time of year and coupled with the cost of living crisis, sadly we could see a boom in the kitten trade this year as a result. If you are considering buying a kitten, we would urge people to use the Kitten Checklist.”
Sam Watson, cat welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “It’s awful to think cats are suffering deliberate cruelty and to know that an average of seven cats every single day are suffering at the hands of humans is really distressing. Cats are one of the most popular pets in the UK with an estimated 10.5 million pet cats in UK homes but sadly they are the second most abused pet – after dogs.
“Tragically, we see hundreds of animals that come through our doors every year who have been subjected to unimaginable cruelty – being beaten, thrown across the room, had bones broken, been shot at, poisoned and drowned.
“As well as being hurt by their owners, 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.”