Influx of unwanted cats could risk overwhelming Chesterfield RSPCA centre this kitten season
Chesterfield’s RSPCA branch has warned that a potential influx of unwanted cats coming into its care this kitten season could risk overwhelming its already full cattery.
Kitten season, the period when most litters are born, runs from May to September, and often sees charities like the RSPCA inundated with unwanted cats and kittens.
Thankfully, the RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Branch did not see an increase in strays last year and instead experienced a surge in the number of applications to rehome a cat.
But with demand now slowing as Covid restrictions ease, there is concern that a potential influx of kittens could risk overwhelming the centre this kitten season.
Steph McCawley, supporter engagement Officer at RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire, said: “Due to Covid, we are yet to see the impact on peoples financial situations as some may have become unemployed and unable to afford to have their cat or kitten neutered which will result in an increase of unwanted kittens.
"Now restrictions are beginning to lift we are starting to see the demand to rehome a cat has slowed dramatically and our cattery is completely full of cats who are still waiting to find their new loving homes.
"We would struggle if we were suddenly to get a massive influx now, with the amount of interest being shown or applications that we’re receiving on cats at the moment.
"We had a huge influx and were getting to the point only a few months ago where we were rehoming cats quicker than we were getting them in. All of a sudden within the last couple of weeks we’ve got loads of cats but not many people wanting to rehome then.
"It’s gone from one extreme to the other. Now, if we were to get stray kittens or cats, we’d work round it but it would make it a challenge for us.”
The RSPCA’s centres and branches took in 22,360 cats last year, and dealt with 9,633 which had been abandoned.
RSPCA’s cat welfare expert Alice Potter said: “Charities like the RSPCA are often left picking up the pieces of kitten season with lots of cats and kittens coming into our care.
"Some of the mums and their litters are stray cats which are picked up by our officers but what we see all too often is unexpected litters of kittens being abandoned or given up because their owners didn’t plan on their cats getting pregnant and realise they can’t cope.
“With an estimated 70 per cent of litters being unplanned, this means rescue centres can fill up very quickly. This situation has been unfolding for several years but we’re concerned that the lockdown could have made the plight of unwanted kittens even worse.
"There has been a real surge in demand for pets during the lockdown with 3.2 million homes taking on a new pet since the pandemic began. However, once people’s lives go back to normal this summer we are concerned that those who purchased a kitten on impulse may find that they’re struggling to cope with them.”
RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire is currently accepting online rehoming applications, but those wanting to see a cat before adopting can visit the RSPCA adoption lounge at Chesterfield Pets at Home.
For more information call 01246 273358 or visit www.chesterfield-rspca.org.uk/rehoming-a-pet/cats/howrehomingworks/.