Kitten season has moved into its “second wave”, and the sheer numbers are threatening to swamp Dunedin-based Animal Rescue Network NZ.
More than 200 cats and kittens are in foster care with the organisation’s 40 local fosterers and the flood of new arrivals shows no signs of slowing.
Network co-ordinator Ana Andrianova said up to 30 cats and kittens were being trapped, rescued, or surrendered to the organisation each week.
“This is the second wave for mama cats out there – they have raised the kittens they had at Christmas and are now birthing new litters,” Ms Andrianova said.
“Our volunteers are exhausted, our trappers are out every night, and our fosterers are almost at capacity.
“To be honest, our resources are stretched almost to breaking point.”
Ms Andrianova estimated the network had rescued and desexed about 1000 cats and kittens during the past year, either strays, colony or “community” cats.
Although this work was well supported by local veterinary clinics, including Mosgiel, St Kilda, Helensburgh, Mornington, and Green Island vets, the cost of desexing and vet treatment was a major burden for the organisation.
“Our December-January vet bills alone were $28,000,” Ms Andrianova said.
The network was founded in early 2015, with the aim of controlling the city’s feral cat colonies, and the lives of network members have been dominated by the challenge ever since.
“It’s tough, but it is really worth it. We have helped take a lot of cats off the streets, and that has to be good for the environment,” Ms Andrianova said.
“We can only urge people to please get their cats desexed. It is vital if we are going to stop this flood of kittens.”
Along with working to stem the tide of unwanted cats across Dunedin, the organisation also helps with individual crises, such as when a colony of cats in Northeast Valley was left without a caretaker late last year when local woman Judith Egerton (77) was struck by a car while crossing the road and died.
“We have managed to re-home almost all of those cats, which is fantastic,” Ms Andrianova said.
The network is also keeping a close eye on the student areas of North Dunedin, to ensure that stray and abandoned cats do not become an issue as they have in past years.
The network’s next adoption day will be on March 18, from 1pm-4pm, at Animal Attraction.