An unlucky clowder of cats found themselves adopted and later abandoned by university students in Potchefstroom during lockdown last year, the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has discovered.
The NSPCA said it was made aware of the issue when the students adopted kittens and cats “for companionship” during lockdown and their academic studies.
The NSPCA said it was not yet aware how the cats came to be adopted, and has not yet provided The Citizen with details as to which university they studied at. Investigations into the incidents are ongoing, however.
“It is still unclear as to whether or not these students were guilt-tripped into adopting the animals, which the NSPCA would frown upon if it is found to be the case,” said NSPCA national senior inceptor Arno de Klerk.
“To adopt an animal out of impulse or to have been guilt-tripped into giving the animal a ‘home’ is simply not fair on the animal, because ultimately that animal ends up back at the shelter or on the street when they can no longer be cared for.”
De Klerk voiced a number of concerns with students owning pets during their studies.
He explained that most students did not earn a fixed income, and usually depend on some sort of “allowance”. And even if a salary is earned, students have other expenses to prioritise, such as school fees, textbooks and human food.
This leaves caring for animals at “the very bottom of the list”.
Students also do not usually have permanent accommodation, many of which stay in residences. Most student accommodation facilities do not allow tenants to keep pets.
“We cannot imagine that students have nearly enough time to spend and care for their pets in between classes, studying and recreational activity,” De Klerk continued.
The alleged activities of the students was put down to “irresponsible ownership”, De Klerk said.
University holidays meant the cats that were adopted were left behind to fend for themselves, or abandoned, actions that were “completely unacceptable,” De Klerk said.
He said incidents such as these “further justifies the council’s concern in students owning pets away from their actual houses”.
Dogs and cats can live for more than 15 years. De Klerk said this meant owning a pet must be seen “as a lifelong commitment”, one which students, more often than not, cannot maintain.
Adopting an animal can only be done once it has been carefully considered by the future owners, and “when one is truly ready to make a lifelong commitment”.
“We urge students and universities to act responsibly and consider the overall wellbeing of the animal you are trying to ‘rescue’. If you cannot commit to the animals’ lifetime, do not commit at all.”