Over the last six years – 2016-2021 – there were 16,212 incidents of deliberate cruelty towards cats reported to the RSPCA.
This means seven cats a day suffer at the hands of humans, with cruelty cases expected to increase during the summer months.
In 2021 alone, there were 1,387 reports of intentional harm to cats, which peaked during the months of July and August.
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.
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.”
To help prevent suffering the RSPCA has launched its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign which aims to raise funds to keep its rescue teams on the frontline saving animals in desperate need of help as well as raising awareness about how we can all work together to stamp out cruelty for good.
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.”
The charity received 1,025 reports of cat cruelty in the West Midlands alone last year.
Cases in the region include a young, declawed kitten called Poppy who was abandoned in Birmingham at only four months old.
Poppy was found in a cat carrier in Erdington with a suspected head injury and a puncture wound to her thigh.
Over in Walsall Wood, four kittens and their mum were rescued after being left in a gateway to a field, with nothing more than a bag of biscuits and a plastic bottle that had been cut in half and filled with water.
Thought to be aged between 12 and 16 weeks, the kittens were checked over by a vet before being taken into RSPCA care for rehoming.
And in Brierley Hill, three kittens were callously abandoned at the back of an Asda supermarket.
The trio - aged about ten-weeks-old - were discovered near the Pearson Street store by a member of the public after they had been left in a cage behind some bins.
All three recovered well from their ordeal at the charity’s animal Newbrook Farm Animal Centre in Birmingham, from where they were rehomed.