Shelters are being stretched by the large number of abandoned cats and kittens.
Shelters are being stretched by the large number of abandoned cats and kittens. Warwick Daily News

Shelters overflow with abandoned cats

SOUTHERN Downs animal shelters are reeling under the deluge of cats discarded over Christmas.

Death row is the prospect facing the abandoned moggies as people fail to rescue their pets from the Southern Downs Council pounds in Stanthorpe and Warwick.

While animal welfare group Southern Downs Ark takes many cats and dogs from the pounds and has a no-kill policy, its resources have been stretched by the spike in unwanted cats.

Yesterday there were 15 cats and kitten at the council's pounds and another 25 are in foster care.

Southern Downs Ark volunteer Lisa Stark said more cats are likely to be dumped in the next few weeks.

"Cats breed in the summer months so we expect to get even busier through to March,” Ms Stark said.

Breeding instincts are triggered by the increased length of daylight hours and female kittens can become pregnant as young as 16 weeks.

"Sadly this is also the time of year that more people dump cats because they are unwanted Christmas gifts or they are abandoned when their owner goes on holidays,” Ms Stark said.

"There are less people offering to foster cats than dogs and we would very much appreciate more people coming forward to help with foster care,” she said.

Ms Stark has volunteered with the Ark for two years and said looking after unwanted pets kept her busy throughout the year.

"But his would be the busiest time I have experienced with the number of cats requiring foster and forever homes,” she said.

Council's environmental services manager Tim O'Brien said most cats that end up in the pound facilities were not de-sexed.

Abandoned cats added to the region's feral cat population, Mr O'Brien said.

"Feral cats have long been recognised as a grave and widespread threat to vulnerable native wildlife,” Mr OBrien said.

"Unfortunately, this is not helped by the large number of entire domestic cats in the Southern Downs region and, at times, this makes it difficult to differentiate between a feral cat and a domestic one.”

He urged pet owners to play their part in helping save native wildlife by de-sexing their cats and preventing them from straying.

"We're very fortunate to have rescue groups that assist council in re-homing these animals, all of which are de-sexed and micro-chipped prior to release,” he said.