Battersea Celebrates 140 Years of Cats After Rehoming Over Quarter of a Million Felines Since 1883

07 Dec 2023

•    Battersea celebrates its 140th anniversary since taking in its first cat
•    Over 140 years, the charity has cared for over 250,000 cats 
•    Thousands more felines have been supported across the UK and around the globe through Battersea’s campaigning work, pet advice and Animal Partnerships

This December, Leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, is celebrating its 140th anniversary of first welcoming cats to its iconic London centre. To mark the special occasion, the much-loved charity looks back on its long history of cats graciously letting Battersea be part of their lives.

Bridie Williams, Rehoming and Welfare Manager at Battersea, said: “We are very excited to be marking this momentous anniversary by celebrating the pure unbridled cattitude of the cats we care for and the incredible bond we share. Over the past 140 years, Battersea has been there for every cat who needs us, from tiny kittens to senior strays, rehoming a staggering quarter of a million since the charity first started to take in cats during the Victorian era. While many `areas of the work we do have changed and developed over the years, our commitment and dedication to improving the lives of cats will remain forever at the heart of Battersea.”

Originally known as The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs, the charity was founded by Mary Tealby in 1860 to care for the burgeoning stray dog population in London at the time, The ‘Home’ was originally based in Holloway, North London, before moving to the world-renowned site at Battersea in 1871 where it continued to take in stray dogs.

While cats were becoming more popular around this time, it was common for them to be seen straying in London, and the West End in particular saw many stray cats roaming the streets in search for food and shelter. In November 1882, an advert was published in a number of newspapers to invite the public to a special meeting to vote on the proposal for Battersea to take in cats as well as canines, which was unanimously accepted. Subsequently, after a generous donation to support the work, Battersea’s first feline residents joined the home in December 1883.

Two years after welcoming its first feline residents, Battersea opened the very first purpose-built cattery in England in 1885, which was the catalyst to the development of the charity’s state-of-the-art facilities at its three centres in London, Kent and Old Windsor that stand today. 

Battersea’s ongoing commitment to feline welfare also rings true throughout its rich history, from its commitment to ensuring all cats rehomed through Battersea centres were microchipped and neutered in the 1990s to appointing the charity’s very first Foster Carers and Cat Socialisers to provide extra support to rehabilitate nervous residents. Life at Battersea has evolved in many ways over the past 140 years to improve the lives of cats, surviving two World Wars and now standing as one of the oldest animal welfare charities in the UK, however it wasn’t until 2002 that the charity was officially renamed Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. 

Since taking in its very first feline residents in December 1883, Battersea has now cared for over 250,000 cats, finding them homes with families who love and appreciate their cattitude, offering training and welfare advice to improve the lives of cats across the globe and campaigning for changes in the law when cats deserve better.

Bridie Williams added: “These days, Battersea, which was once infamous for its association with dogs, now rehomes as many cats as their canine counterparts each year. In 2022, Battersea directly cared for more than 2,000 cats across our three centres and helped thousands more beyond our gates, through our work across the UK and overseas with our Animal Partners and through our campaigning work such as lobbying for compulsory microchipping for cats which will be introduced in June 2024. We are proud of all that we have achieved over the past 140 years, and Battersea will continue to be here for every dog and cat for as long as they need us.”

To find out more about Battersea’s special cat anniversary and about the experts who care for them, visit: 


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Notes to editors
·  At Battersea we offer our love and expert care to dogs and cats who need us by rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals at our centres, and by sharing our knowledge and resources with rescue organisations around the world. We do this because we want to help every dog and cat, everywhere. 

·  In 2022 Battersea directly cared for 2,278 dogs and 2,253 cats at our three centres. We also helped thousands more through our Communities programme, campaigning work, supporting other rescue centres and animal welfare advocates, and sharing knowledge and advice with pet owners.

·  We’re reliant on the generosity of the public to continue to fund our vital work helping dogs and cats and the people who care for them. To donate to Battersea, visit:

·  In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.

·  To find out more visit our website or follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ , Instagram @battersea or