Animal Welfare

Melburnians Turn to Cats in Record Breaking Numbers to Cope with Lockdown According to Cat Protection Society

With Victoria set to come out of lockdown 4.0, the Cat Protection Society of Victoria has reported a record month for cat adoptions as Melburnians have turned to feline support to help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

When the fourth lockdown hit Victoria, the Society returned to online adoptions, asking anyone interested in adopting a cat to fill in an online application form. They received over 100 new applications within a fortnight, contributing to the highest number of feline adoptions during the month of May in over five years.

The Society’s Shelter Manager Lisa Agius isn’t surprised by the huge correlation between adoption applications and the continued lockdown in Melbourne.

“We’ve always known the superpowers of cats. They have that incredible ability to calm and comfort their owners, so to see Melburnians crave that connection once again during lockdown is no surprise,” she says.

Spokesperson for the Cat Protection Society of Victoria and Research Fellow, Dr Vanessa Rohlf, together with Professor Pauleen Bennett and Dr Tiffani Howell, are currently conducting a La Trobe University study into pets and pet ownership during the pandemic. Dr Rohlf believes that it is the human response to connect during a crisis which is a huge driver in the rise in adoptions, which are likely to continue as the pandemic drags on.

“The reason we’re seeing this increase is that humans are social creatures and are hard wired for connection, especially in times of crisis. I think people might be experiencing greater levels of loneliness and isolation, as well as rising levels of stress, so see a pet as easing some of these negative feelings,” Dr Rohlf says.

“With current restrictions in place, people haven’t been able to turn to their friends, family and colleagues for that much-needed social support, so a safe form of social connection is to adopt a cat.”

“Prior to the pandemic, research showed that those who owned a cat reported time spent interacting with their cat improved their mood and reduced their levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms,” she says.

Pets can also provide safety and routine for their owners, something they are likely to crave during lockdown, particularly children.

“Pets can offer a stable and secure connection. For many people, the pandemic has disrupted their lives and routines, and having a pet that wakes us up at the same time every morning for a feed, for example, can give us a reason to get up in the morning. Pets can really offer some certainty, purpose and comfort during these difficult times,” she says.

The Cat Protection Society of Victoria does advise however that a cat is for life, and people should ensure they have the resources beyond the pandemic to look after their pet.

“Do your research and make sure you understand exactly what is required when it comes to looking after a cat,” says Ms Agius. “Fortunately, through our adoption process, the extra time we spend with our adoptees has ensured they are aware that adopting is a lifelong commitment and they’ve been provided all the information they need to assist with their new ‘furever’ family member.”

A delayed kitten season has meant that the Cat Protection Society of Victoria continues to have both cats and kittens available for adoption. Find out more at www.catprotection.com.au/adoption/

To find out more about Dr Rohlf’s study visit

https://redcap.latrobe.edu.au/redcap/surveys/?s=8HTPTTH79X