Kitten crisis: rescued kittens need hand-feeding around the clock (Image: RSPCA)
More than 90,000 cats have been rescued by RSPCA branches and centres over the last three years as abandoned animals are left to fend for themselves on the streets. Many of the kittens are simply thrown away like rubbish or have to face the dangerous hazards of the outside world. With the oncoming “kitten season” about to start, the charity is calling on potential owners to be wary of making snap decisions about taking on cats as pets and then being unable to cope.
The RSPCA made its appeal after releasing worrying statistics to show how cats and kittens have been abandoned at alarming rates over the last three year, with the charity taking in 28,986 animals alone last year.
Over the next six months, the number of rescues are expected to rise in line with the number of unwanted litters being born, creating an overpopulation crisis, the charity is warning.
Carrie Stones, the RSPCA’s Cat Population Control Manager, said today: “With an average of 86 cats coming into our care every day and a peak in the number of abandoned cats reported to us in summer, this clearly highlights that the UK is facing a cat overpopulation crisis with so many cats ending up in rescue centres.
“We would always urge people to think about the long-term commitment that caring for a cat entails and avoid making a snap decision about whether to take on a cat or kitten, for example from family or friends or buying online.
“Sadly, we see so many litters of kittens dumped like rubbish in the summer months because often owners have made this quick decision and can no longer cope, or the kittens have been an unplanned litter and a shock to the owner of the moggy mum.”
A carabiner is a quick and easy way to leash your dog.
These four kittens were dumped in a box near litter bins (Image: RSPCA)
For all the allure of having an adorable kitten as a pet, the truth is effort and expense.
Ms Stones continued: “There is no denying that kittens look cute but the reality of caring for them can be hard work, time consuming and costly.
“We, and other cat and vet organisations, believe the solution to this crisis is to neuter cats from four months old before they can become pregnant and therefore avoiding these unwanted litters.”
Figures released by the RSPCA, show Greater London has the worst record of cat abandonments, with 2,222 recorded last year, followed by West Midlands with 1,506 cats and West Yorkshire with 1,291.
To highlight the dire situations some kittens are suffering, the charity has released details of a number of recent rescues.
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White and black mother cat rescued with kittens from busy London Underground station (Image: RSPCA)
Four black and white kittens were saved by luck last month after being dumped like rubbish in a cardboard box near bins in Scafell Drive, Birmingham. They were only rescued when a passer-by spotted the box moving.
RSPCA Animal Collection Officer Cara Gibbon, who took the kittens into care, said: “It is awful to think these kittens were just dumped like rubbish and left by the side of some bins. It is just lucky that the lady saw the box they were in moving and cared enough to investigate.”
Remarkably, a tiny black kitten abandoned in a Costa Coffee is believed to have been reunited with his mother and littermates by luck. Staff alerted the RSPCA after the kitten was dumped in plastic box with some food in the east London café’s toilet, but was still too young to be away from his mother.
The kitten was given to a newly arrived cat at the RSPCA’s Harmsworth Animal Hospital to foster along with her own three youngsters. Because of the geography where the litter was found near Woodford Green, staff believe she may well be the abandoned kitten’s real mother.
Another mother cat and her litter had to be rescued recently from underneath new escalators at a busy London Underground station. The RSPCA was alerted when the stray black and white moggy, wearing a collar but not fitted with a microchip, was spotted with her four new born kittens at Moorgate. They are now being looked at one of the charity’s animal centres.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a dog in the house means more bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases.) In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people with no pets.