‘Cat crisis’ pressure on animal rescue

‘Cat crisis’ pressure on animal rescue

The South East is continuing to experience a cat and kitten crisis, with local rescue groups working tirelessly to help the many felines in need.

Wet Noses Animal Welfare Rescue founder Marie Dukalskis said there was a large number of stray cats which were usually not desexed, contributing to huge numbers of cats and kittens every year.

“We did hope with the new laws coming in in 2018 where cats and dogs are required to be desexed by the age of six months that we would see an improvement, however we have not,” she said.

“Most councils are not actively following up the laws and enforcing the laws, so there just seems to be more and more every year because we do not get them all, so they are still out there breeding.”

Wet Noses Animal Rescue foster carer Kirryn Coscarelli said cats were also considered a ‘disposable pet’ by some people.

“People grab them because they are cute when they are little and do not take responsibility,” Ms Coscarelli said.

“If we had the same amount of dogs wandering around the street un-desexed and un-microchipped, as we do cats, society would not tolerate it, and yet they seem to tolerate it with cats,” Ms Coscarelli said.

Ms Dukalskis said the rescue had approximately 100 kittens in its care every kitten season, which exceeded more than 100 for six months at one stage.

“They were not the same kittens, it was a revolving door, so when some got adopted, there were more coming in,” she said.

“People contact us asking if we can take them and they kind of just think we will be able to, but we have only got foster homes, we do not have a shelter.

“Eventually foster carers get to the point where they cannot take any more in.”

Ms Coscarelli bottle feeds kittens, which require round-the-clock care, and she said kitten season was getting longer each year.

“Over kitten season I do not get any sleep, I am up every couple of hours feeding them, I get a lot of sick kittens,” she said.

“Kittens are very, very prone to getting all sorts of infections because they have a high death rate without their mother, and even with their mothers they have a high death rate.

“I also have a high turnover of kittens, I have them when they are little and then I try and move them on when they get a little bit older so I can then take more little ones in.

“It is a never-ending task, which is why we would really love prevention rather than trying to deal with the problem.”

Ms Dukalskis said although kitten numbers eased during winter, many adult cats remained, and she encouraged people to give an adult cat a chance when adopting.

“It does take a lot longer to find a home for an adult cat, and if people are willing to take a cat that is a bit older, they are past the curtain climbing stage, they do not want to wake you up at 3am as much,” she said.

Ms Dukalskis said desexing, immunising and microchipping was key to managing the cat population issue and Ms Coscarelli hoped Australia would consider a ‘trap-neuter-release’ program, where unowned and semi-owned cats were trapped, desexed, and returned to their original location.

Ms Dukalskis added there was no such thing as a free kitten due to the ongoing expenses of the animal and being a responsible pet owner.

“Our adoption fees include most of their vet work, like their desexing, microchip and vaccinations up to the date of adoption,” she said.

“People still seem to think they are paying for the kitten, but they are not really, so they think they will go and get one that’s free then they do not get them desexed.”

Cats and Kittens Rescue foster carer Cindy Tully currently has more than 70 cats and kittens in her care and said her rescue has been above capacity for a long time.

“It takes me three and a half hours every morning to get up and tend to all the animals, whether that is I have to get up at 2am to start (work) at 6am, that is what I do, then I get home and start the routine again,” she said.

“I lose thousands (of dollars).

“A lot of it with rescues is not straight forward, there are hidden medical costs and things like that.

“I just wish there was more financial support; the cost of food is going up, it is costing me $100 a day to feed these animals.

“It is a sinking ship I feel if I do not get help.”

Ms Tully said she did not envision the cat and kitten crisis improving without law enforcement.

“I think the council faltered right at the start from running a microchip database, cheap microchipping, and not running the desexing with it, I think that is the only way we are going to combat it,” she said.

“Generally people who do not want to do the right thing are not going to do it unless you force them too, and it only takes a few of those people, we have seen how many kittens one cat can have, then that cat has kittens and it just snowballs.

“So, I think the council needs to run a desexing program and then make hefty fines.

“Something needs to be done about the breeding aspect of it and just sweeping it under the rug is not helping, we have got no powers as rescues to make people get their cats desexed.”

Local councils have been contacted for comment.

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