It’s never been so crazy, says volunteer as Northern Ireland shelter takes 55 calls to repatriate cats in one day

A Co Tyrone animal sanctuary is experiencing its highest demand for cats, receiving 55 calls to take in unwanted animals in a single day.

Anice Porter, from the Grovehill Animal Trust, based near Sixmilecross, said it was the worst she had seen in 20 years of volunteering.

Although she expects an increase in the number of pandemic pets, Janice was stunned by the magnitude of the situation.

She told this newspaper that as of 11 a.m. Monday, the shelter had received more than 20 calls.

She cited owners who failed to neuter cats acquired during lockdown as one of the main causes, along with the cost of living crisis which is making it harder for owners to meet their pets’ needs. .

She said there has also been an increase in the number of dogs housed at the sanctuary.


A cat cared for at Grovehill Animal Trust

A cat cared for at Grovehill Animal Trust

Many of them are around two to three years old, with many people having taken dogs into their homes during the Covid lockdowns.

Unfortunately, many of these new owners were unprepared to meet their dog’s basic needs for walking and proper socialization.

Janice said for some dogs this leads to behavioral issues and even aggression.

“For a long time we had dreaded conversations, thinking this was going to happen,” she added.

“I’ve been involved with Grovehill for 20 years and honestly can’t remember when it was this crazy with requests for cats and kittens to leave. I am not exaggerating when I say this.

“Every year is busy, but we believe this is a consequence of people not having their adult cats spayed and neutered during lockdown.

“The vets weren’t open or people didn’t think it was safe to come out so to speak.”

Janice warned that the consequences of not having cats neutered could be disastrous.

“If a female cat lives to be 15 years old and never neutered, she can produce a minimum of 180 kittens in her lifetime,” she added.

“It’s very realistic – it’s three litters a year and I’m careful when I say there are on average four cats per litter.”


A cat cared for at Grovehill Animal Trust

A cat cared for at Grovehill Animal Trust

A cat cared for at Grovehill Animal Trust

About 30 cats were at the sanctuary yesterday, with each cat packed and many more waiting for space.

“We are a small one. independent charity. We receive no government funding,” Janice said.

“We rely 100% on donations from the public to keep our doors open.

“We created a mother-kitten unit. It’s a work in progress, but as of today, we literally can’t accommodate another cat.

Janice said that over the past few months she had received calls from people who had started feeding a stray that had suddenly given birth to a litter.

“These are people who feed cats out of good nature, but it’s getting completely out of control and they can’t afford it anymore,” she added.

Janice said it was a myth that it was good for a cat’s health to have a litter of kittens before having them neutered.

“Another thing we forget is that they don’t castrate the tomcat because he won’t produce kittens, but he goes to your neighbor’s cat and all the feral cats in the country, so it’s very important that the males are castrated and the females are neutered,” she explained.

“It’s a very simple operation and the recovery times are short.

“It’s really sad to see. We have the most amazing kittens and moms, but the numbers are absolutely insane.

“We are doing the best we can. Sometimes members of the public get impatient with us, but we have to explain to them that the cattery is full and that we can’t accommodate any more.

Despite this, the team will always be available for advice.

“We understand people’s circumstances are very different, but right now we’re really struggling,” Janice said.

“What we really need are financial donations as well as food for cats and kittens.”

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