AN ANIMAL charity is urging cat owners to get their pets neutered after a population explosion.
Lynda Downton, co-ordinator at the Portesham-based Feral Cat Care, said they are being ‘overwhelmed’ with strays.
In one instance, a single cat produced 28 offspring within two years.
Mrs Downton said: “The cat was owned by a lady in Preston, and we got involved after she was sadly taken to hospital.
“This is extreme but it does show how quickly it can get out of control. We are still trying to rehome around 12 of the kittens.”
From January to March this year, the charity ran a deal allowing cat owners to get their pets neutered for just £5 and Lynda said this will be offered again next year.
She said: “It is expensive for people who have pets, especially taking into account inoculations for kittens, food and other vet bills.
“We do our best to help people on benefits but I think we need to spread the word about how important it is and the consequences not neutering your pet can have.
“It is certainly not going to happen overnight, but we need to make a start.”
Mrs Downton said she is aware of other animal charities which are struggling to re-home even ‘cute, fluffy kittens’ due to the volume.
“I would say up to 95 per cent of the cats that come in to us are domestic cats that have gone feral, and their offspring.”
This can lead to difficulties in rehoming them, she added.
“Because they are born outside they are not the friendliest of animals. We often look for homes on farms for them.”
The kittens are currently being fostered at a number of homes, including three with Pat Aplin.
Mrs Downton added: “If you don’t get a male neutered, when they reach about six months old, they will wander off in search of females. They can get lost and become a nuisance and really be quite aggressive.
“With the females who get lost or are abandoned, they will get pregnant and have kittens, often in people’s gardens.
“Those born outside, even to domestic cats, will be wild.”
Cats can breed up to three times a year, having litters of normally around five kittens, but occasionally as many as nine.
They are fertile from six months old.