There’s been spike in the number of homeless cats taken in by Icelandic shelters this autumn, RÚV reports. The exact reason for this is unknown, but Arndís Björg Sigurgeirsdóttir, director of the Villikettir cat shelter, says that it may be a result of COVID restrictions relaxing: people who got pets during the pandemic are giving those animals up now that they aren’t stuck at home.
“We were really afraid of this during COVID,” Arndís remarked. “That people who were getting bored at home would get cats as cuddly pets.” An increasing number of former pets are now wandering the streets, she continued.
Exacerbating the situation was a popular rumor that there was a shortage of kittens available in Iceland during the pandemic. This led to some people adopting cats for the purposes of selling them.
Villikettir, whose name means ‘wild cat’ or ‘feral cat’ in Icelandic, has traditionally focused its efforts on caring for cats that were never domesticated as pets and had never lived in homes. Now, however, they are also trying to take care of stray cats that have been accustomed to living indoors and having regular food and care.
“I don’t know if people realized what a responsibility [cats are]. They’ve been chosen as pets because a lot of people think they just take care of themselves.”
If you’re interested in supporting Villikettir with donations, providing a foster home for a cat prior to its adoption, or assisting in many other ways, see the organization’s website (in Icelandic) here.