Fosterers inundated by kitten explosion

Keiran Harper has plenty of small, furry foster friends. Photo: Linda Robertson
Keiran Harper has plenty of small, furry foster friends. Photo: Linda Robertson
Dunedin's Animal Rescue Network and its 40 cat foster families are under heavy pressure caring for a record 250 stray kittens and cats.

Founder of the  charity  Ana Andrianova said last summer had also been busy, but the network was now facing the biggest demands in its three-year existence. Its foster families were caring for about 200 kittens and 50 cats, and reports of stray or abandoned cats were continuing to pour in.

This was a "serious" social problem.

"It’s humans who created the situation by not de-sexing their cats, and only humans can put it right," she said.

Network foster parent Keiran Harper, of Dunedin, said he was well aware of the pressures imposed by the continuing surge in stray kitten numbers.

He and his wife Rebecca and 5-year-old son Oliver were fostering a stray cat and 10 kittens, eight of them recent arrivals.

"It’s demanding, but you get to look at kittens and play with them," Mr Harper said.

Ms Andrianova said a crucial point was that pet owners had to take responsibility for having their cats de-sexed.

But the procedure could cost  $120 or more  for female cats, and it was "financially difficult" for some pet owners on limited incomes to afford this.

Dunedin was experiencing the "second wave" of kitten births during the current breeding season, and further peaks in births were  likely to follow, Ms Andrianova said.

The network had helped de-sex  more than 3000 kittens and cats over the past three years, including about 360 subsidised procedures that had been undertaken, over three successive Septembers.

But the challenges were continuing and it was hard to see if the network was making any progress in reducing the problem.

The charity had recently made "pretty good" progress in rehoming  cats which North Dunedin resident Judith Egerton  had cared for at her property, Ms Andrianova said.

Ms Egerton  died after she was hit by a car while walking at the intersection of Dundas and Great King Sts on December 13.  Homes were  being sought for about 10 adult cats which still visited her property and for eight kittens, Ms Andrianova said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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