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Rescue centres under strain by huge influx of kittens after heatwave prolonged cat mating season

So far this year the DSPCA has taken in 1,389 cats and kittens.

ANIMAL RESCUE CENTRES are experiencing a strain on their services after the summer heatwave prolonged the feline mating period, resulting in a huge influx of kittens much later in the year than usual. 

The Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) has said it is still getting reports of cats giving birth this late in the year.

“We currently have around 50 kittens in foster homes waiting to come into the shelter for re-homing – this is almost unheard of in past years for the month of December.”

So far this year the charity has taken in 1,389 cats and kittens. 

The first kittens of the year are usually born during the spring and into the summer months while there is an abundance of food like baby birds and mice, ending around October. 

But the DSPCA said that because of the snow this year followed by the heatwave, the cats started breeding later than usual, which means rescue centres like the DSPCA still have kittens arriving.

“Usually, we would laugh at people coming in near Christmas asking for a white kitten for their child, we’d usually say ‘try again in June’ but only last week we had four white kittens looking for homes,” Gillian Bird, DSPCA spokesperson said. 

She added that despite the demand for kittens, the problem the rescue is now facing is the sheer volume of cats and kittens looking for permanent homes and foster homes.

In order to tackle the issue of people gifting pets for Christmas, the DSPCA has suspended its adoptions, running a foster only service over the festive period. 

This stops people rushing out to adopt and gives people a chance to get used to the pet, with many progressing from fostering to adoption.

The rescue still expects to experience a strain on its services in the New Year as it anticipates an influx of unwanted Christmas cats, who will join the large number of kittens and cats already in the rescue. 

“In the New Year, the kittens start to grow up and will be left sitting there, as people come in looking for kittens and not cats,” Bird said. 

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The Dublin North Cat Rescue (DNCR) told it took in over 350 cats and kittens in the last two months alone. 

Aisling Cushen, a trustee of DNCR, explained that while the summer season has pushed their numbers up being based in the city means “kitten season never ends”.

It doesn’t stop. There are so many places for cats to shelter in the city and there are more people around to feed them. We would have kittens come into us all year round, nearly. 

Cushen said that the DNCR’s adoption process, like the DSPCA, ended this weekend to deter people gifting cats for Christmas. 

“We don’t adopt out for Christmas. We recommend that Santa leave a picture of a kitten or write a letter so that a cat can be adopted in the new year instead,” she said. 

While the weather this year has played a role in the high number of kittens being born, there is still a big issue with the number of cats who are not neutered, something Cushen said will stop a repeat of this year’s influx. 

“Many cat owners in the city won’t have their cat chipped or neutered because people believe ‘my cat won’t get out’, but they will get out, that’s the problem.” 

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