Breeding season: Aussie state's stray cat crisis after Covid

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read

Victorian cat shelters are at crisis point in the wake of Covid-19 lockdowns after councils suspended trapping programs, leading to rampant breeding.

The Lost Dogs' Home, which also shelters cats, said on Friday that with close to 800 cats and kittens in its care and more coming every day, there was a desperate need for people to adopt a feline.

Summer is usually the busiest time of year because it's breeding season, but this time it's different, Lost Dogs' Home spokeswoman Suzana Talevski said.

"Nearly all councils suspended their cat trapping programs for most of the lockdowns," she said.

The Lost Dogs' Home volunteers hold up cats that need to be adopted urgently
There is desperate need for people to adopt a cate. Source: Instagram/lostdogshome

"Those cats that would normally have been trapped have been breeding, which of course has only added to the already overpopulated problem in some areas, and those litters were also mating as they had time to mature and mate."

The rates of desexing and micro-chipping of pet cats in Victoria is low, she said, which exacerbates the problem.

Pet cats usually become strays when they breed and the owners don't want the kittens, so discard them.

An example from the Lost Dogs' Home is mother cat Sarina and her litter of six kittens aged seven weeks old, who were abandoned on the side of a busy road in Melbourne's west just before Christmas.

"Sarina's story in not unique and we are currently experiencing an extremely high volume of mumma cats and their babies dumped on our doorstep," Ms Talevski said.

Cats and kittens that need homes at the Lost Dogs Home in Victoria
The Lost Dogs' home is currently experiencing an extremely high volume of cats and kittens that need homes. Source: Facebook/The Lost Dogs' Home

‘Clear the Cat Shelter’ campaign

The Lost Dogs' Home has shelters in North Melbourne and Cranbourne and is launching a "Clear the Cat Shelter" campaign from Monday, aimed at selling off all its cats.

Adoption prices will be slashed from $120 to $25 for older cats and from $470 for a pair of kittens to $235.

It's the reverse problem to what the shelter dealt with during lockdowns in 2020 when Victorians were stuck at home and lonely. Back then there was a waiting list of up to a thousand names of people wanting to become cat owners, Ms Talevski told AAP.

The Lost Dogs' Home takes more than 10,000 abandoned stray cats a year and says managing populations of homeless cats is a constant problem nationally.

Cats are prolific breeders, Ms Talevski said, with one pair and their offspring able to produce 420,000 cats in seven years.

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