Cats Protection chair resigns after row over number of cats kept in her home

The charity's interim chief executive stepped down last week after saying that Linda Upson had 18 cats in her three-bed home, which gave rise to welfare concerns

Linda Upson

The chair of Cats Protection has resigned after a row over the number of cats kept in her three-bedroom home. 

Linda Upson said today she was stepping down as chair and as a trustee because she did “not wish recent news coverage to detract from the charity’s vital work helping cats in need”. 

Third Sector revealed last week that Charles Darley had resigned as interim chief executive of Cats Protection after just three months, after raising concerns about Upson keeping 18 cats in her three-bedroom home.  

A spokesperson for the charity said today that Upson had 14 pet cats and at the end of last year kept another six kittens that were awaiting new homes. 

The spokesperson said kittens were kept in a “separate, clean and well-kept area of her house, in keeping with Cats Protection guidance” and that she no longer had any foster cats. 

Upson, who had been on the board since 2012 and chair since 2017, said in a statement that she had spent the past 20 years supporting cat welfare through voluntary roles with the charity. 

“Cat welfare and wellbeing have always been a paramount concern for me and I have always ensured my own cats and foster cats receive the best possible care,” she said. 

“My cats are aged between nine and 19 years old. I believe they are happy and healthy as each has their own feeding bowl, litter tray and other resources. They are all fully vaccinated and regularly taken for veterinary consultations. I also have no foster cats at this time.”

Upson said Cats Protection had made “great strides towards improving feline welfare in the UK” during her time with the charity. 

“This has included work to highlight the importance of microchipping, expanding our delivery of education and developing our advocacy work so that we can continue to speak up for cat welfare with parliamentarians and policy makers,” she added. 

Darley told Third Sector he was delighted that Upson had resigned because it freed the charity to position itself on a strong cat welfare platform that would have been hard with her still there. 

He said he was pleased that the charity had indicated it would consider a trustee code of conduct, which he said should embrace all forms of compliance, not only cat welfare but also safeguarding, health and safety and financial compliance.

He said the next chair should be drawn from a local branch but it was important that that branch was “leading the way in terms of best practice, so they can set an example for all of the rest of the branches and volunteers”. 

Darley said one animal welfare expert had concluded that more than five cats in a typical family home would be a cause for concern. 

Angela Swarbrick, deputy chair of Cats Protection and who has been appointed interim chair, said: “We would like to thank Linda for her dedication to our organisation’s work on cat welfare for the past two decades.

“Cats Protection takes governance seriously and our trustees follow the Charity Governance Code.

“The charity undertakes regular reviews and has committed to an external review of its governance procedures and processes to ensure that we are confident in delivering the next 10 years of our strategy so we can do the best for cats.”

Cats Protection said it would appoint a new chair in due course.

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