Urgent appeal as stray cat numbers ‘hit crisis levels’ in Redbridge
PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:28 11 April 2013
The number of stray cats in Redbridge is reaching crisis point, according to volunteers who say the recession is a factor.
On Tuesday, a charity was called to rescue 16 stray cats and kittens in Wanstead Park Road, Ilford.
The homeless animals will be neutered to stop the stray population multiplying further, but it is not the first discovery of the kind in Redbridge.
A crying kitten was found abandoned outside Barkingside Police Station and another cat was found emaciated, dumped in a cardboard box in Wanstead Park.
Sue Cunningham cares for cats she rescues at her home in Seven Kings because local shelters are “overflowing”.
She said: “There are a couple of volunteers in Redbridge.
“We go to lots of jobs in Ilford Lane, Seven Kings and Barkingside trapping strays.
“We can’t get them into shelters because they are overflowing so I do what I can.”
Sue believes websites like Gumtree with unlicensed sellers allow people to buy pets too easily.
She said: “People buy kittens and they don’t know anything about looking after them. They don’t neuter them and they are all breeding.
“We’re not living in the country, we’re living in highly populated streets where there are probably more cats than humans.”
Stray and unneutered cats often get into fights over territory and mates and can get badly injured.
Sue described how she once found a stray “with his leg nearly hanging off” and said they are easy targets for cruelty by people with air rifles and other weapons.
Cats can be born on the streets but are also lost, abandoned or become homeless when an owner dies. Charities cannot care for the huge numbers of stray and homeless animals, including dogs, other pets and wild animals taken in every year and kill thousands.
In 2011, the RSPCA put down more than 3,400 animals, including 1,676 dogs and cats, for “non-medical reasons”.
A spokesman said: “The RSPCA sometimes has to put some re-homeable animals to sleep simply because they cannot be found good homes.
“While there continue to be too many animals being bred, and we continue to take in more animals than there are willing re-homers, we will continue to have this dilemma.”
It is a situation that Sue fears. “We are going to have cats found in sacks because people have taken the law into their own hands,” she said. Celia Hammond Animal Trust, in Canning Town, takes in cats from all over north London and responds to regular calls in Redbridge from people concerned about strays.
Staff trap the animals once sure that they have no owner and take them to the shelter – but now it has reached capacity.
Founder Celia, who was a 1960s model before founding the trust in 1986, said the situation is deteriorating.
She said: “The last year has been the worst I’ve ever seen and I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years. “I think it’s the recession.
“People are finding they can’t afford to feed cats, being evicted and not taking on animals. Re-homing figures are down and abandonments are up and still there is a culture of people that won’t believe in neutering.
“It’s because of religion, culture or just don’t like the thought of doing something unnatural.
“But the alternative is hundreds of thousands of animals on the streets being put down or starving.”
For information on neutering cats, reporting strays or looking after rescue animals, visit www.celiahammond.org
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