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SPCA preparing for another huge kitten season after desexing put on hold

SPCA is bracing for what could be its busiest kitten season yet, after hundreds of desexing operations are currently on hold due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

First neonate kittens of the new season, which arrived at SPCA’s Māngere Centre on September 3.

Over the last year, the charity’s resources have been stretched to the limit as Centres were inundated with pregnant felines for months on end, in what was the longest kitten breeding season so far.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says while the organisation is still recovering from last kitten season, staff are preparing for a busy few months ahead, with the first newborn kittens already arriving at Centres across the country.

“Last kitten season was unlike anything we’ve experienced in previous years. While we’re used to a hectic spring and summer period for kittens, our Centres were still receiving new litters for almost a full year,” says Ms Midgen.

SPCA has been working hard to desex as many cats and kittens as possible in recent months, but there are concerns the latest lockdown will have stalled progress in reducing unwanted litters, as desexing is not considered an essential surgery for veterinarians operating under Covid-19 restrictions.

“For each week New Zealand is in the highest alert levels, more than 500 animals are unable to be desexed by SPCA alone,” says Ms Midgen. “That number, combined with those that are unable to be desexed outside of our organisation, has the potential to cause thousands of unplanned animals being born.”

In the past 12 months, SPCA desexed almost 28,000 animals nationwide, both through its network of Centres and community desexing campaigns such as Snip ‘n’ Chip, which offers discounted desexing and microchipping to cat owners.

“We know we’ve made a huge impact by preventing tens of thousands of unwanted animals being born, but there’s still a huge amount of work to do,” says Ms Midgen.

While desexing is unable to take place at veterinary clinics during lockdown, SPCA is urging owners to desex their cats as soon as their vet is able to when restrictions are lifted.

“We’re asking pet owners to prioritise desexing and make sure it’s at the top of their to-do list when lockdown ends, because we know it’s the single most powerful tool to reduce the number of stray animals in our communities,” says Ms Midgen.

SPCA is also seeking more foster volunteers to temporarily open their home to animals in need, as the busy spring-summer season gets underway.

“Having animals in foster homes is not only better for their welfare, but it helps our Centres to free up more space to be able to help the most vulnerable animals in our communities, particularly during the busy kitten season when capacity is limited,” says Ms Midgen.

With a nationwide shortage of foster volunteers, Ms Midgen says fostering is a great way to help animals in need, especially for people who might not be able to commit to adopting an animal for the long-term.

“There’s never been a better time to become a SPCA foster parent, with so many of us working from home. I know there’ll be lots of animal lovers keen to help out and I encourage them to give fostering a go.”

SPCA supplies everything required for fostering, including pet food and bedding. Fostering and adoptions are available at SPCA Centres during alert level 3 through contactless pick-up. People who are interested can apply via the SPCA website.

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