RSPCA Blames Film and Social Media for Overcrowding in Shelters

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

UK rescues dealing with influx of super-trendy, uber-fashionable pedigree felines.

Photo Credit: Andrey Tairov /

For the past two years, news reports have abounded regarding the plight of animal rescues across the globe. Shelters have been pushed to capacity and beyond as they try to cope with the number of pets adopted during COVID that are now being relinquished after owners return to work. In fairness, many new pet parents failed to recognize the amount of time a fur-kid would require, the hard work needed for training, nor, the costs associated with food and vet bills. It’s a rookie error that net serious consequences.

However, the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is battling an additional scourge with rescues - the number of pedigree cats arriving at shelters. And they’re pointing the finger at film and social media for this surge.

Huh? Which breeds and why is social media to blame?

Well, in addition to the high-maintenance, long-haired pedigrees such as Maine Coon and Persians – both popular in the Harry Potter franchise and now television series Ripley - they’re noticing another rather unique breed. And the RSCPA isn’t shy about calling out the spy-action thriller Argylle, as the possible culprit.

You see, the recently released movie features a Scottish Fold that is toted around in one of those peek-a-boo style backpack cat carriers.

Never heard of a Scottish Fold? This adorable looking feline has a set of stunted ears that fold down, making it appear rather owl-like. While cute, the cause is a genetic anomaly that impacts the cartilage throughout the feline’s entire body. It can lead to malformed bones, painful joint disease, and… whopper vet bills. Hence the need for some pet parents to step back and relinquish their pet.

Truth be told, the movie release wasn’t actually the debut of this unique-looking feline. It’s long been a favorite on social media due to Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey – the Scottish Fold fur kids of none other than Taylor Swift. Can’t get tickets to the Queen of Pop’s concerts? Why not share the same pet? And that’s how trends start.

But movies have influenced pet purchasing behaviors for decades. Back in 1997, there was a tremendous spike in adoptions following the release of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Per the New York Times at the time, “Animal shelters around the country have reported sharp increases in the number of unwanted Dalmatian dogs this year, many of them given to children as gifts last Christmas after the release of Disney's remake of the movie ''101 Dalmatians.''

Yes, getting swept up in the hype of film and social media isn’t a new phenomenon and as long as we have celebrity pets scoring thousands of likes and millions of followers, it isn’t going away any time soon.

The key to keeping these pets safe and shelters uncrowded is to educate potential adopters on their role and responsibility as well as the potential health issues and vet costs associated with the breeds they’re considering. And hey, in my books, nothing beats a scrappy little stray!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

More by Mary Simpson