AN animal rescue centre boss says she’s shocked by the amount of kittens being handed into her in the run-up to Christmas.
Ann Kirton fears that people are exploiting their cats by breeding them to have numerous litters of kittens so that they can sell them on the internet.
Ann, who runs St Francis Animal Rescue in South Shields, said: “I have run a rescue shelter for nearly 30 years and I am shocked by the amount of kittens still being born in December.
“I myself have 12 kittens waiting for lifelong, loving homes, not to mention numerous adult cats, which are sometimes overlooked.
“It has come to my attention that the kitten population has exploded in the past few years due to people exploiting their own cats by letting them have numerous litters of kittens, only to sell them on the internet.
“Unfortunately, these kittens soon become unwanted cats, often found wondering the streets ill or pregnant, and this is where our charity has become stretched as we don’t just help cats, but all animals.
“We always include neutering and microchipping when adopting a young cat, even adopting an older cat comes with the benefit of their first vaccination.
“The cost of all this as you can imagine is huge.
“For this year alone, our veterinary bill was nearly £25,000.
“The majority of this was spent on neutering, not to mention the cost of food, litter and advertising – the list goes on.”
Ann says the shelter, which has a charity shop in Stanhope Road, South Shields, cannot survive without public support and donations.
In a bid to combat the soaring number of kittens in the borough, Ann is offering free neutering until the end of January.
She is also on hand to offer advice on spaying and neutering.
For help or to adopt a cat or kitten, call Ann on 456 9613 or 07528 245088 or Linda Tufield on 427 0077.