A WORRIED animal shelter boss says she has reached ‘crisis’ point after being overwhelmed with demand to take in unwanted cats by cash-strapped owners.
Maria Harrison, owner of Willows Cat Adoption Centre in Wantage Street, South Shields, has been forced to make the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to turn pets away after already exceeding capacity.
While calls to help shelter cats has surged, just one cat has been rehomed in the last month.
The caring 60-year-old believes tough economic times are at the heart of the problem.
She said: “We have reached a great crisis. We have only housed one cat in the last 30 days, I have never known it to be like this before.
“We are having to refuse 30 or 40 cats every week as we are operating over capacity.
“We have 38 cats when we only have room for 34.
“It is heartbreaking to have to say we can’t accept anymore.
“But resources and space are limited.
“I think there are so many reasons why people aren’t keeping hold of their cats.
“There is so much hardship, unemployment, the bedroom tax has played a part, as well as marriage break-ups.
“We exist primarily to support strays who have no other place to go.
“But we are getting dozens and dozens of calls from people who don’t want their cats anymore.
“I worry about will happen to the cats we can’t take in.
“Many of them will be just be dumped by the owners.”
While Ms Harrison would love to take in more cats, she is already at bursting point and has to fork out hundreds of pounds a month to feed the four-legged friends and pay for veterinary fees.
She is issuing a rallying call for support – either for big-hearted residents to adopt a pet or give money to support the shelter.
Willows Cat Shelter will be hosting a coffee morning from 11am until 3pm on Saturday, where people can see the cats and find out about the many ways they can help out.
Ms Harrison says the shelter is already struggling for funding, with national animal organisations and a host of other charities to compete with.
She added: “It is a very worrying time and we need animal lovers to support us.”
For more information on the coffee morning and to help re-home a cat, call Ms Harrison on 536 6221 or 077196 05383. visit www.willows-cats.co.uk