Dartford cat sanctuary promotes neutering as 'cat crisis' continues across the UK
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 April 2014
A report called Tackling the Cat Crisis has revealed that the number of cats rescued by the RSPCA increased by 8 per cent between 2010 and 2012, from 29,269 to 31,556.
The number of new homes has declined by 10 per cent in the same time span.
The society is urging vets to promote awareness of the need to neuter cats at four months of age, when they reach sexual maturity, rather than the traditional age of six months.
Laura Palfrey, who cares for cats from her home in Greenhithe, Dartford, knows the importance of promoting neutering. She is one of six volunteers at Bow Lodge Cat Rescue, which started 30 years ago and covers the areas of Dartford, Purfleet, Basildon and Maidstone.
The rescues are self-funded and all of the volunteers spray, neuter, deworm and deflea cats given to them, looking after them in their own homes until they can be adopted.
“There are always more cats needing homes than people wanting to home cats, so it’s just a case of wanting to find the right balance,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be solved, but it would be nice if it could be diminished.”
Laura said it was also important to ensure cats go to a loving, suitable new home, otherwise they were likely to end up back in a rescue centre.
“You want to make sure they are going somewhere safe where they will be looked after,” she said.
She warned that a lack of neutering was posing a danger to cats everywhere, harming their health and resulting in unwanted kittens that could struggle to find homes in the future.
“We try to promote neutering as much as possible,” she said. “There are all these cats needing homes. The last thing we need is even more unwanted kittens.
“There are a lot more effects to not neutering than people think. Until I started doing this, I didn’t realise the full implications.”
If male cats are not neutered they are likely to spray urine if they smell a female in season, which can be unpleasant.
There are also dangers to the animals, as they could contract feline immunodeficiency virus, a disease which reduces a cat’s number of white blood cells and eventually leaves it less able to fight infection.
Pyometra, an infection of the uterus that occurs because of hormonal changes in a cat’s reproductive tract, is also a major concern if they are not neutered.
“Just neuter, neuter, neuter,” Laura insisted. “There are a lot of neutering schemes out there, even if you haven’t got a lot of money.”
She said people who thought it would be a nice for their cats to have kittens were often not prepared for the addtional costs, such as the extra food needed by mothers and kittens.
“Between worming the cats and feeding mum, they just can’t afford it and off they go,” she said.
RSPCA branch support specialist Becky Blackmore said: “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.”