The first mobile phone app which allows the public to alert an animal charity to sightings of stray cats has been developed by Scottish scientists.
The team from the University of Edinburgh developed the app as part of the UK’s first in-depth study of the stray cat population being conducted by Cats Protection, the UK’s largest cat charity.
While there are an estimated 10.5 million cats living as household pets, the number of strays is unknown.
The charity aims to use the information from the Bulwell Catch Watch app to catch and neuter the strays to reduce and control their population.
The charity helps neuter 159,000 cats and kittens a year, 19,000 of which are feral cats.
Jane Clements, the charity’s neutering manager, said if the pilot scheme is successful it could be expanded UK-wide.
“At the moment we are targeting a specific area of Nottingham which we believe has a fairly high stray population. We’re asking members of the public to download the app onto their mobile phone which will enable them to quickly and easily send photos and details of cats they believe are homeless.
“The data we gather will enable us to target our neutering work which in turn will help reduce the long-term stray population.
“Harnessing the power of mobile technology is really exciting. This project has the potential to revolutionise the way we tackle the stray cat population.
Ms Clements added: “If successful, we are looking for it to be eventually rolled out across the UK, to help us assess the numbers of stray cats and control populations nationally by means of targeted neutering programmes.”
The charity was founded in 1927 as the Cats Protection League.