So Many People Are Abandoning Cats Due To Inflation, Shelters Have Surrender Waiting Lists

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve experienced sticker shock in the last six or seven months, especially in grocery stores.

Staples like milk and bread cost two or three times what they did pre-inflation, some retailers are taking the opportunity to arbitrarily hike prices even higher, and a perfect storm of economic uncertainty and a rampaging bird flu caused the price of eggs and poultry to skyrocket.

By late 2022, almost 50 million chickens and turkeys had been killed by avian flu or culled because of it, and almost 10 million more were lost to the virus in the first 12 weeks of 2023, according to the CDC. That breaks the record for most birds lost to avian flu, which was set in 2015 when 51 million died or were culled.

Pet food prices are up too, mirroring grocery inflation, as are veterinary costs and medicine for cats and dogs.

Inflation has squeezed so many people that shelters in the US and UK are reporting unprecedented surrenders from people who believe they can’t afford their pets anymore. In some areas it’s so bad that local shelters have waiting lists — or surrender queues, as they’re called in the UK — for people parting with their pets.

“We get between 10 and 12 surrenders per week, so we’re looking at anywhere between 30 and 50 a month,” Ashley Burling of Montana-based Help For Homeless Pets said. “When you’re talking about inflation, you’re talking about vet bills, pet food, pet supplies and pet rent. I think inflation, I think people going back to work after the pandemic, there’s other reasons that they’re surrendered.”

More than 70 percent of adoptable pets at the Nevada SPCA previous had homes, executive director Lori Heeren told the local NBC affiliate. Her organization is on pace for 2,500 surrenders in 2023.

Free cute european shorthair cat

News outlets tell the same story in local markets across the country, and the Humane Society is seeing the same trend nationally, CEO Kitty Block told CNN. While pet-related costs increased sharply in 2022 — with food and supplies increasing by as much as 30 percent, according to NielsenIQ — statistics show they haven’t relented yet this year. In fact, prices are still edging up, albeit at a slower rate than the previous year.

To cope, more people are leaning on pet food pantries. In Iowa, for example, the Animal Rescue League gave away more than 40,000 pounds of pet food in 2020 and 2021, and a whopping 146,000 pounds in 2022.

Shelter operators say they want people to know there are options so they don’t feel they have to part with cats and dogs who have become family.

“This is bigger than dogs or cats in shelters,” Block said. “It’s about the people who love them.”

PITB readers are the kind of people who dote on their cats and most of us couldn’t imagine abandoning them even in hard times, but chances are we all know someone who’s thought about parting with their fluffy overlords.

a gray cat eating from the ceramic bowl
Credit: Angelina Zhang on

They don’t have to give their beloved cats and dogs up. There are resources to help them meet their animal’s needs to prevent them from surrendering:

– Many local chapters of the Humane Society and SPCA, as well as private shelters, offer free spay/neuter clinics and free or low-cost veterinary exams. A guide from the Humane Society notes PetFinder allows users to search for pet-specific food pantries and low cost veterinary services

– There are programs that provide pet food to people who can no longer afford it

– Some shelters will place pets in temporary foster homes to help relieve the burden until their owners can take them back

– Buying food and medicine online is significantly cheaper than in grocery stores. Some offer deep discounts on meds to existing customers and prices from online retailers have remained relatively stable, especially when buying in quantity

– Social services programs may include provisions for pets

It’s in the best interests of shelters and animal welfare programs for cats and dogs to stay with their people, and not only because they don’t have the resources to house hundreds of abandoned pets on top of their usual intake.

Keeping people and pets together benefits both. Cats and dogs obviously don’t understand that their people are tearfully, reluctantly giving them up. All they know is they’ve been abandoned by the people who made them feel safe and loved. For the mental health and overall well-being of humans and their furry companions, they should stay together.

For some people, like Patricia Kelvin of Poland, Ohio, that means scrounging up whatever she can and cutting back on her own expenses before she will allow her cat to go without.

“There’s just no question in my mind. If my diet was going to be more beans than something else, I wouldn’t hesitate,” Kelvin told CNN. “If I had to sell my sterling silver, which I’ve had for 60 years, that would go before my little ‘Whiskers’ would be deprived.”

31 thoughts on “So Many People Are Abandoning Cats Due To Inflation, Shelters Have Surrender Waiting Lists”

  1. Best place to get good deals on pet supplies is online. Local pet store is shutting down because of outrageous prices. Some cans of pet food are $1-$2 or more than online. These crazy prices started when they opened about 10 years ago.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A local “high end” pet food store closed recently up here in Westchester as well. It was in the downtown shopping area of a wealthy community and probably survived as long as it did because of the demographics, but yeah, I don’t think most people are keen on buying cat food for $2.50 per 2.5oz can.

      Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen FreshPet in local stores lately either. They used to have their own refrigerated display cases near the front of most stores. I tried it once as a treat for Bud and IIRC he wasn’t particularly taken with it.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Absolutely, I bought a load on line recently,I live in France and the same things are happening here, also in the supermarkets the shelves are quite empty. People have been dumping their cats in the wild. It’s heartbreaking, thats how I adopted my Puspus, I have moved and since June I already have 2 other cats (strays) coming to my door. So I feed them, much to Puspus’s anger!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Seeing the same thing here in the stores. The kind of wet food Bud likes is very hard to find, and everything’s more expensive. I’ve been buying his wet food in bulk and big bags of dry that last a few months, all via Chewy.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Of course! He knows the deal though, he has to eat a variety of stuff, like chicken, salmon, tuna and beef. So he gets his beloved turkey most often, but I made sure to rotate from when he was a baby so he wouldn’t get too picky. It’s worked out well.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I am also thrilled this store is shutting down. Owner is an a**hole and i knew that for years for several reasons. Last thing i asked him was if he could please donate some pet food to local pantry so pet owners can get some food. He said no. Then the last thing i told him was i was the person who took cat from his store years ago before cat was put in shelter to be killed. Cat was given to me by employee telling me pos was said cat was too old to kill mice in store. And she was never bought to vet.She lasted 3 more years with her medical ailments. Sweetest cat you would ever meet.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. We have Costco here in U.S. Kirkland brand good dry food for my feral Bootsy. First ingredient is chicken but i can only afford Friskies for his wet food. One of the reasons i eat vegetarian is because it is cheaper. I will feed my cat and my feral before i spend money on meat. But i do not eat meat.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I tried Kirkland recently but it didn’t go over well, and Bud is such a pain in the ass about leftovers. I’m glad the perfect portions containers from Sheba, Nutro, etc, are recyclable, because the 1.2oz servings are good and you don’t have to worry about refrigerating anything.


  3. FFS, is there anything people won’t take out on their cats? Thanks for informing readers about how to deal with vet and food bills. It frustrates me so bad when animals are abandoned because of costs. But recently I had a $1200 vet bill for dental treatments for two cats, and that hurt. I’ll eat grass before the animals go without.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just saw PBS special on vet costs. Part of show had woman on food stamps who was able to get low cost pet care because of a vet who set something up. Cannot remember what he did.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Timely post Buddy & Big Buddy!!
    And from the comments I feel the frustration & anger from all around the world.
    Nothing different in Canada.
    I deal with a store called Pet Valu & have done for 26 years.
    BellaDharma has a fairly simple diet due to Colitis.
    She does have Weruva (Cats In The Kitchen) wet food for snacks. Each pouch cost $2.69 & I can eke out 2 servings.
    Merrick’s brand TURKEY Pate 5.5 oz can costs $4.49…..yes, you red THAT right! $4.49 for 1 can ot=f Turkey Pate….I buy 8 at a time.
    Natural balance 5.5 oz cans are more reasonable @ $2.59 a can.
    Canadian PERFORMATRIM kibble 3 lbs bag is now #26.99….ridiculous but it is Chicken & Rice & BellaDharma has not trouble with it.
    Feliway Refill costs a whopping $35.99 (WTH?)
    I could continue but you all get the picture! I do not have a way to shop online nor am I mobile enough to go to schlepping all over to pick up her ‘foodabullss’ as she calls them!
    Quilpy what salad dressing do you recommend with green grass salad? 😉
    😦 BellaSita Mum

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you having a tech issue that prevents you from ordering online? If so, I’m sure we can help you get it sorted.

      As far as inflation, the pet industry trade publications say that there are still supply chain issues with packaging materials, which would impact all of us in different parts of the world. We take all that stuff for granted, but the pandemic showed how fragile logistics infrastructure is.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Help a Big Buddy out!

    Can you guys let me know if you run into any issues viewing PITB on mobile? I’ve got a console warning telling me some pages have text too small to read and content wider than the page, but as far as I can tell, the problem pages are no different than the others. The fonts and font sizes are consistent throughout the site.

    Still, depending on the browser and platform you’re using, you may be seeing things differently than I do. If anything looks funky, please let me know. Cheers.


  6. In the UK they’ve pretty much stopped the tins of wet cat food which worked out much cheaper than the pouches; it seems strange to me that they’re stopping tins which are recyclable and have moved to plastic pouches that aren’t and yet no-one but me seems to moan about it! Wouldn’t be anything to do with profit surely? sarc.

    We sadly had to have our gorgeous Sirius pts recently, it broke my heart but he was 17 and was struggling, he was black with a white heart on his chest, loved him to pieces. He hated the meat in pouches, not sure why maybe he could taste the plastic, but it was really hard to find the tins for him during the last year or so. I tried him with tuna, sardines, chicken etc but he would only eat tinned meat lol.

    We’ve got 2 rescue cats right now, I literally found them dumped in the middle of a wood 9 years ago, they were trying to catch flies to eat bless them, my dogs found them in a hollow tree stump and told me, they were maybe 8 weeks old. The rescue didn’t have space even back then, so we kept them of course, one is white with black ears and tail and the other black with white ears and tail, they are very sweet, our daughter named them Salt and Pepper.
    Nice to have found you ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your Sirius passing. Sounds like he was a well loved little guy and even though he had a long life, I know that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

      When you say plastic “pouches,” do you mean the little trays marketed under the “Perfect Portions” name, or actual pouches like cat food toppers come in?

      Buddy’s regular wet food is Sheba Perfect Portions, which has been a good compromise between quality and price without the problem of unappealing leftovers. They come in little plastic trays with 1.2oz meals.

      The Perfect Portions trays are fully recyclable here in the US, but I’m not sure about pouches. If Chewy ships to the UK, or there’s a similar online retailer, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s a lot cheaper than buying in pet stores and grocery stores.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi thank you, we still miss him so much! It’s not been a good year so far as had to have our gorgeous elderly lab PTS last Monday, she was 14 and a half 😭 another broken heart!

        Here in the UK we do have the small trays of cat food but boxes of pouches are cheaper so most people buy these. They are like a plastic covered foil pouch that isn’t recyclable, but Sirius really didn’t like the food from them, much preferring it from a tin. The two rescues prefer dry food weirdly.
        Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. And here i am again on April 5th. A cat was dumped on me after 3 years of boarding her and getting paid minimal fee. Have to rehome her as i cannot afford a second cat. Pos owners have not texted when i requested they come get her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If she’s been in your home for 3 years and you would consider a GoFundMe to make it possible to stay, I will be willing to help publicize it as much as I can.


      1. Thank you but there will be fundraising by rescue group and some online stuff. I am fond of her but i have a cat and an outdoor one to feed. My cat still needs his teeth done. There are other factors as to why i cannot keep her. One reason is i take care of my 73 old autistic brother on my own.


      2. Question. If this cat needs dental work and group has to fundraise are you able to post name of cat rescue group who is helping me?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah as long as I can get enough information for a story: A little bit about the cat, some photos, some background about what the fundraiser is for. A few good photos would help a lot.


      4. Great. Thank you! Photographer will be here Tuesday being sent by rescue group called For Animals, Inc. Cats name is Furmina. I will be bringing her to vet April 24th. As i mentioned in past i am pc moron so maybe you can get off thier website when she gets posted. My budget is $500 for her. I am praying Furmina does not need teeth cleaned. Will be in touch. Thank you so much and kisses to Buddy.

        Liked by 1 person

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