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Explosion in NZ's cat population putting increased strain on animal charities

An explosion in the cat population across the country is putting increasing strain on animal charities.

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A lack of de-sexing and a warm winter created the perfect breeding ground for diseases and sick kittens. Source: 1 NEWS

By Samuel Wat

A lack of de-sexing and a warm winter has created the perfect breeding ground for diseases, and rescue centres are overrun with sick kittens.

Sparky’s one of dozens of patients at a kitten foster home facilitated by rescue group Lonely Miaow.

He’s recovering well from the cat flu, but volunteers feared the worst.

“When he came to me, his eyes were swollen and completely shut... he was blind,” volunteer Rachael Santos said.

Veterinarian Marcus Horley’s treated many sick kittens this season.

“We can see things as mild as a runny nose and congestion, through to pneumonia,” he said.

Lonely Miaow has another 900 cats waiting to be collected, and half of them need medical care. It’s a similar story among other rescue shelters 1 NEWS spoke with.

Lonely Miaow rescue manager Samantha Boston said the Covid-19 lockdowns prevented the group from performing rescues, which meant a huge backlog after lockdown lifted.

They're now dealing with triple the number of cats compared to previous years.

A warm winter’s encouraging cats to mix and mingle, causing their numbers to explode.

“If we’re talking population density, if that’s increasing and we have unvaccinated animals, it’s really easy for the disease to spread quite quickly,” Horley said.

Luckily for cats at Christchurch’s SPCA, they’re being snapped up within minutes of being put up for adoption.

“It's just been crazy, the number of people calling up and enquiring online,” centre manager Kelly Wyatt said.

“I think our record is three minutes for all our adoption slots to fill up in one day.”

The best way to curb the booming population across the country remains - desex, desex, desex.