LISBURN Mayor, Alderman William Leathem, paid a visit to Glenburn Veterinary Surgeons, Lambeg, to hear about the increase in unwanted litters of kittens in recent years.
Dee Jennison, a receptionist and animal nursing assistant at the clinic, fosters unwanted kittens. Her work can involve hand rearing them until they are the correct age for rehoming.
Dee said: “I work closely with many animal sanctuaries and shelters. This fostering is done in my own time and at my own expense, although family and friends are wonderful at helping out with cat food, milk and litter.
“This year, and last, has seen a staggering increase in the amount of unwanted litters, both from feral and pet cats. Myself and all the sanctuaries have had to turn plenty away, which is heartbreaking, but we are reaching crisis point with the numbers.
“Working in Glenburn vets has highlighted one of the main reasons for this increase. Simply put, owners are just not aware of a cats reproductive cycle. Many take them to be just like their canine counterparts, coming into a defined season twice a year. Sadly, this is not the case.
“Cats can produce litters all year round. They can fall pregnant from as young as four months old and as soon as the kittens stop feeding from Mum, she can be mated straight away and so the cycle continues. Many of these poor babies will be abandoned, the majority of them will die if taken from the mother while still feeding. Others make it and simply add to the feral cat population, who will continue to reproduce.”
Dee continued: “There is help available with neutering costs if the criteria are met. A quick call to the Cats Protection League will determine if the owner is entitled to a subsidised neutering voucher.
“I would also like to advise people about the use of Anti Freeze coming into winter. Sadly, we have lost a number of cats due to this substance. It is highly toxic to cats, just a few licks can cause death. By the time the symptoms start to show, the damage may have already been done. Any spills should be mopped up immediately and the Anti Freeze stored away carefully and securely. It may be useful to advise neighbours to be cautious as well.”