We often update our website and social media emphasising the 'cat crisis' during the summer months. Well…what do we mean by that? Are rescue centres everywhere exaggerating? And why is summer particularly bad?
What is our 'cat crisis'?
This term basically means that all of our cat accommodation is full, and that some cats are staying in foster homes as well. We have several litters of kittens and a few adult cats staying in foster homes, and all of our cat pods at our Centre on Abbey Street are also full. We have lots of cats waiting to come into the Centre and we are literally fit to bursting!
Why is it so bad in summer?
Summer is also known as 'kitten season'. It's the time of year when we get calls from members of the public who have either found stray cats giving birth in their gardens, or whose own cats have given birth. Along with that we also get boxes of cats and kittens dumped outside our Centre and Inspectors are constantly bringing kittens and cats in that have been found abandoned.
Scores of pregnant and nursing females come into our Centre to raise their kittens. Unfortunately it is very rare that these cats are microchipped, therefore it is next to impossible for us to find their owners and so we have to find them loving homes as well.
At this time of the year we also get a lot of unneutered males arriving at the Centre. Some arrive most likely because they have wandered away from their homes looking for females and have been picked up as strays. Many of these males arrive with abscesses and other wounds picked up by fighting other males - most likely due to the prevalence of unneutered female cats ready to mate.
Why can't we just rehome them all?
In winter quite a lot of our cats move through our Centre quickly. As there aren't cute kittens to compete with, they are far more attractive to the public who are searching for a family pet. However, once kitten season comes around, many of our adult cats are overlooked for many months. Of course, we really want all of our kittens to find forever homes too, but it just isn't possible for us to rehome all our kittens and all of our adult cats as quickly as required. Therefore we end up with a backlog of animals waiting to come into our Centre and are constantly struggling to find space.
Mother cats in particular seem to have a tough time. They spent two months raising their kittens, only to come back to our Centre and be left without a home. Also, due to the high number of cats coming into our Centre, we struggle to take mother cats back from their foster homes, meaning they must remain there longer. While ever they are in a foster home, although well loved, their chances of finding their forever home are slim. You can read a little more about our mother cats here.
What can you do to help?
There are many ways that you can help us to tackle this crisis this year and in the years to come. Every year this worsens and if everybody works together hopefully we can help to stem the flow of cats coming into rescue centres.
1. Neuter your cats
We cannot overstate the importance of this one. This is the single most important thing you can do to help - and it's also cheaper than you might think! If you have a male cat he can be spending his days impregnating the local stray female population. If you have an unneutered female cat it is only a matter of time before she falls pregnant. Have a look at our neutering page for more information on why this is so important and how we can help you to do this. ALWAYS consider whether you can afford neutering before taking an animal on. You may be thinking that you want your female cat to have kittens because they're 'cute'. Think about what is best for the health of your cat, and for the welfare of cats all over the country. Even if you think that you can find homes for your kittens, remember that there are countless kittens in rescue centres who already need homes
2. Microchip your cats
Another essential part of responsible pet ownership is microchipping. As previously stated, we receive countless cats into our Centre every year who have obviously been much-loved pets in the past, but who have been picked up as strays and brought into us. If you microchip your cat you greatly increase the chance of being reunited with your beloved pet and also allow us to save space for truly homeless cats
3. Adopt, don't shop
If you're considering adding a cat to your family, please please please adopt. Come down to see us and have a chat with the staff. We can advise you on the most suitable cat/kitten for your family and help you to find your perfect match. There are thousands upon thousands of cats in rehoming Centres across the UK who desperately need homes. Why not visit our Centre on the 21st and 22nd June when we are hosting our 'Cat and a Chat' event for RSPCA Week?
We rely on donations from members of the public to continue our essential work. You can have a look at our donation page for more information on this. On this page you can also donate specifically to our Cat Maternity Fund. This fund will help us to convert an area of our site to a specific cat maternity area, allowing us to accommodate more pregnant and nursing females during this time of the year. If you would like to donate a product rather than money, we are always very grateful for kitten food during the summer months, and blankets during the winter months in particular
5. Volunteer as a cat fosterer
During the summer months we send as many of our pregnant and nursing cats on foster as possible, as we prefer our kittens to grow up outside of our animal centre. These dedicated volunteers care for the kittens and nurture them until they are ready to be rehomed. We are particularly looking for homes without other animals (although we're happy to hear from those of you who do have other animals too!) and people who are not out of the home for long periods of time to ensure the kittens are monitored regularly. Please contact Leanne Manchester or Lucy Bell if you're interested in finding out further information
6. Educate others
If you know somebody who is planning to breed their cat, or who is thinking about taking on a kitten please talk to them about this post and let them know how important neutering is. Encourage your friends to come and adopt a cat or kitten from a rescue centre like us and let them know that they can come to us for advice
As you can see, there's a little something that everybody can do to help. Will you make the change today?