Coast to Coast Cat Rescue volunteer Paige Rice is helping her mum bottle-feed several kittens that were found dumped in the Far North.
The “massive problem” of neglected and unwanted cats in the Bay of Islands has sparked a new charity dedicated solely to rescuing and rehoming felines.
Coast to Coast Cat Rescue was established at the end of November to minimise the impact an uncontrolled cat population has on the environment, and educate people about responsible cat ownership, which includes desexing and vaccination.
The registered charity also provides shelter, care and rehoming for unwanted or stray cats and kittens, with the help of five volunteer foster carers.
Coast to Coast Cat Rescue trust chairwoman Sam Stewart worked as a volunteer for the Bay of Islands Animal Rescue group for three years and said she started the dedicated cat rescue due to the sheer number of unwanted cats and kittens.
The new group covers the wider Bay of Islands area and includes Hokianga, Kerikeri, Paihia, Opua, and the main “hotspot” Kaikohe.
Currently, there are about 130 cats and kittens being taken care of by fosterers.
“We just need to be able to let the public know the scale of the cat problem that’s out there,” Stewart said.
“It does need a dedicated cat focus to get the problem sorted.
“In places like Kaikohe, people get free cats off Facebook, they don’t desex them and they can start breeding horrifically young.
“People go away and leave them behind, that’s another big one. It comes down to the desexing and people don’t bother to do it.”
Stewart said the rescue group does not offer a shelter and instead relies on volunteers to look after the animals at their homes.
Some of the animals are adopted through Pet Essentials in Kerikeri, and some through the Kamo Pet and Aquatic Centre in Whangārei.
All adoptions take place via an adoption application process or at adoption events to “find the purrfect match between human and feline”, she said.
The group also works with Highway Vets in Kerikeri and the local SPCA to get more cats desexed.
Stewart said the problem is huge.
“You’ve got one mum, she has babies, and all of them start breeding, which they do at about 14 weeks, and within the space of the year, you’re looking at a massive problem.
“You could end up with in excess of 50 cats on your property.”
The group is currently looking for volunteer foster carers to help temporarily house the felines until their forever homes are found.
Everything needed for their upkeep is provided by the charity including food, litter, a crate and any medical costs.
They also welcome donations of pet beds, blankets, toys, food, litter, scratching posts and collars which can be dropped off at Pet Essentials in Kerikeri and the Kamo Pet Shop.
Email Sam at email@example.com if you can help.