This week’s warmer weather has coincided with a sudden upsurge in unwanted kittens, stretching RSPCA South Australia’s cat care team to its limits.
More than 30 kittens have arrived at the RSPCA’s Lonsdale animal shelter within the last 48 hours, all of them less than six weeks old.
RSPCA South Australia Foster Care Program Coordinator Nadia Travis said most of the kittens have come in as orphaned strays, with two of them now in the care of RSPCA’s veterinary team because of serious medical conditions.
“It certainly strains our resources to have so many kittens less than six weeks old, which is too young for them to be separated from their mothers,” Ms Travis said.
“If someone needs to surrender kittens, we would really like them to stay with their mother until they are at least nine weeks old.
“By that age they are old enough to be weaned and we can make them available for adoption.”
Twelve kittens came in with their mothers from one property, seven to one mother cat and six to another. Fortunately, these kittens are old enough to wean, but younger kittens require high levels of care before they mature enough to desex and put up for adoption.
“We desperately need more foster carers to take some of these vulnerable babies home for a few weeks until they’re old enough and strong enough to find permanent homes,” Ms Travis said.
The shelter also continues to have kittens dumped at its front gate, the latest four found by a security guard late on the night of Tuesday October 9. Ms Travis said if they hadn’t been found they would not have survived until morning on that cold night.
“Luckily, we had two lactating female cats that instantly took these babies on as surrogates,” Ms Travis said.
“We urge people to never dump animals but surrender them to us during opening hours when we can immediately take care of them.”
Preventing cats producing unwanted litters is the obvious solution to the annual flood of kittens. RSPCA South Australia remains hopeful that new cat and dog laws introduced this year, requiring all cats born after July 1 to be desexed by six months of age, will start to impact soon. However, Ms Travis stressed that it would be better if people desexed their cats at an earlier age than six months.
“Female cats can start producing litters from as young as four months, which is why we support early age desexing – and for cats this means at eight weeks.
“If more people did the responsible thing, and had their female cats desexed as soon as possible, we would not be dealing with the situation we’re faced with here now.”
The sudden kitten influx comes as RSPCA South Australia launches its annual festive season fundraising appeal. Anyone wishing to help the RSPCA care for animals like these orphaned kittens can become their Guardian Angel by signing up at: www.rspcaguardianangel.com.au.
More information about RSPCA South Australia’s foster care program is available at: www.rspcasa.org.au/foster-care.