Animal charities stark warning over cat crisis in Bexley
PUBLISHED: 09:34 19 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:34 19 September 2013
The number of cats in Bexley in need of a home has hit crisis point, the RSPCA has warned.
Irresponsible and accidental breeding is to blame, according to the animal welfare charity, which had 371 cats in care last month in the Kent area.
It is said that a single female cat and her offspring can be responsible for about 80,000 kittens over seven years, with the average feline producing three litters a year.
RSPCA branch support specialist Becky Blackmore said: “Our RSPCA branches are run by local volunteers and they are often on the receiving end of frustration when the public ask us to take on their unwanted cats.
“Branches never put a cat to sleep if it can be rehomed. However, resources are now so stretched that we need the public to support us to ensure we can continue to provide this service for unwanted, abandoned, sick and injured cats in Kent.”
This stark warning is seconded by volunteers at the north-west Kent branch of Animal Samaritans, which covers Bexley, Gravesend and Dartford.
Catteries, such as the one at Dartford and Bexley Cat Protection, are often full at this time of year due to the sheer number of litters born during spring.
Heather Deverson volunteers at Animal Samaritans, in Bexleyheath. The organisation takes in abandoned cats and performs home checks before rehousing them. They also attempt to look after stray and feral cats.
Heather’s home is overrun with 14 kittens awaiting new homes, as well as adult cats who have struggled to find a home from previous years.
She said: “Every time I come home with a cat my husband cringes. I’ve got litters of four-week-olds, two-week-olds and one-week-olds.
“But the kittens tend to find homes easier than the older cats.
“As time goes by it becomes harder and harder to home them. Plus, people don’t want the so-called ‘boring’ black cats, they want tabby or ginger cats.”
Owners failing to neuter their pets is to blame for the annual boom in unwanted cats, says Heather.
“It’s incredibly irresponsible to not have them neutered. Cats can be pregnant again before their last litter is even weened. They carry for nine weeks and they can have a litter every four months.
“I have 14 kittens and three cats here and half of them are females. In six months just think how many I could end up with if they’re not neutered.”
With numbers rocketing, the RSPCA is keen to dispel some misconceptions in the hope of preventing some owners from winding up with an unwanted litter.
Becky added: “It is a myth that it is best for a female cat to be allowed to have one litter of kittens – the health and safety of both male and female cats is best safeguarded by neutering at four months of age.”
To volunteer to foster a cat, or give one a permanent home, visit animalsamaritans.org.uk/homes.