Animals are being affected by the cost of living crisis as the RSPCA warns that owners' lack of funds is 'the biggest single threat' to pet welfare.

The RSPCA has released its groundbreaking inaugural report - the Animal Kindness Index -in partnership with the Scottish SPCA which looks at the nation’s attitude towards animals.

The report, in part based on a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 UK adults, found that animal welfare is one of the top most important social issues people were asked about.

Read more: Revealed: How £135million is being spent to improve these major North East roads

But in the North East, 68 per cent of people said that the cost of looking after their pet had become more expensive over the last 12-months.

Nationally, around a third of owners said they were worried about being able to afford to properly care for their pet and 18 per cent said they were worried about the cost of feeding their animals.

More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the public describe themselves as ‘animal-lovers’, and 75 per cent of people said they’d carried out an act of kindness for animals in the past.

The Northern Echo: A report by the RSPCA reveals how the cost of living is impacting pets (file photo) Picture: PixabayA report by the RSPCA reveals how the cost of living is impacting pets (file photo) Picture: Pixabay

However, the report also revealed that the rising cost of living and the cost of pet ownership could threaten animal welfare, with 78 per cent of pet owners saying they think the cost of living will impact their animals.

Almost seven out of ten owners expressed concern that the cost of pet care was increasing and the study showed cat owners seem to be most impacted and concerned about cost of living pressures.

Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy at the RSPCA, said: “It’s great that our research has confirmed we are a nation of animal lovers, however we cannot ignore the stark suggestion that the cost of living crisis is the biggest single threat to pets in the UK today.

“We are on the brink of an animal welfare crisis due to the rise in pet ownership during the pandemic, coupled with the cost of living pressures biting - especially those on lower incomes.

"It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“We’re starting to see the knock-on effects of this as we, and other charities, predicted.

"Tragically we’re starting to see an increase in the abandonment of pets and growing numbers of cats and rabbits being rescued and coming into our care.

The Northern Echo: A report by the RSPCA reveals how the cost of living is impacting pets (file photo) Picture: PixabayA report by the RSPCA reveals how the cost of living is impacting pets (file photo) Picture: Pixabay

“It’s worrying to see that 33 per cent of pet owners have experienced issues they did not expect with their pets and, sadly, we are now seeing an increase in pets coming into our care, many because owners are struggling to afford to pay for behavioural support, vet care or even to feed their pets.

“The RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA prioritise animals most in need of neglect and cruelty and would urge any pet owners struggling to seek help to address problems at the earliest opportunity so that problems do not spiral out of control.”

Read more: Whopping £33k repair bill for Victorian lamppost knocked over by lorry

The RSPCA is seeing an increase in rescued animals coming into their care, with many rehoming centres already full and others close to capacity.

The charity has seen a year-on-year rise in some animals coming into its care - in the first five months of 2022, the charity took in 49 per cent more rabbits, 14 per cent more cats and three per cent more dogs than the same period in 2021.

Research conducted by the charity also revealed that in April 2021, there were around 4,400 searches per month online around ‘giving up pets’ and in April this year it rose by 50 per cent to a high of 6,600.

The RSPCA received 3,644 calls last year categorised as ‘help with vet bills’ - a growth of 12 per cent year-on-year.


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated North Yorkshire Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054