New Zealand kitten shortage: SPCA low on kittens after post-lockdown adoption boom

Prospective pet parents looking to adopt a furry friend may be out of luck if a kitten is on their wishlist, as the SPCA currently has a shortage.

One Reddit user took to the forum to question the lack of cats up for adoption through the SPCA, wondering whether the shortage had anything to do with a "post-lockdown rush".

The user said they are aware that July is not 'kitten season' - the time of year when the majority of litters are born and shelters are inundated - which typically stretches over the summer months. Last season saw SPCA centres flooded with felines as early as September.

"I know at the moment it isn't 'kitten season', but myself and some people I know have been casually looking at cats/kittens up for adoption - since early March - and I've seen near no kittens available; any available do get snatched up extremely quickly," the user explained.

"There aren't even many adult cats to choose from! SPCA Christchurch and possibly Wellington adopted out all of their cats before lockdown, and I understand there's been a post-lockdown rush too.

"Is this normal, or is this just how it is when it's not between the months of November-February?"

Another user replied: "I've noticed the same thing with dog listings on Trade Me. Listings only a day old are all sold."

New Zealand kitten shortage: SPCA low on kittens after post-lockdown adoption boom
Photo credit: File

The SPCA's website currently says it has been experiencing a "high number of adoption enquiries" since its adoption services reopened under alert level 1.

However, an SPCA spokesperson told Newshub the shortage is not unusual for this time of year. 

"There is always a shortage of kittens at this time of year, so waiting lists are not uncommon," she said. 

"Give it a few months and we'll be inundated with kittens."

In March, a handful of Twitter users expressed disappointment that Kiwis appeared to be 'panic-buying' pets, with a number of tweets detailing bids to adopt an animal for an elderly parent ahead of the nationwide lockdown.

"Tried to adopt a kitten for my mum so she's not alone in quarantine for four weeks but SPCA [Mangere] had a [queue] out the door 30 minutes after opening," one Auckland-based user tweeted.

"Apparently people are panic adopting pets," another replied, noting that Auckland's Lonely Miaow Association also ran out of kittens at the time.

In May, Newshub reported that level 4 lockdown had appeared to spark a surge in interest in adopting and fostering animals, as the SPCA grappled with an inundation of requests to take home a forever friend.

As the country moved into alert level 3, it got "hugely busy", SPCA Wellington manager Ros Alsford told Newshub.

SPCA carers said time spent alone in lockdown, or increased feelings of loneliness or isolation, may have inspired the surge in animal adoptions.

But the SPCA spokesperson says recent records show there is currently "no more demand than usual" across its centres.

"Anyone wanting to adopt is encouraged to send through an online enquiry form and an SPCA staff member will be in contact as soon as an animal becomes available," she said.

The waiting list for kittens at the SPCA's Wellington Centre is currently full due to "a large increase in adoption enquiries", according to the SPCA website. It asks future cat-owners to regularly check the website for updates on when the list will be reopened. However, one six-month-old kitten is available, as well as two young adult cats.

According to the website, there are currently two four-month-old kittens available for adoption at the Christchurch Centre and two young adult cats. 

Across Auckland's two SPCA centres in Mangere and Hobsonville, there are just three kittens available, aged between four and seven months.

Under alert level 1, all SPCA adoptions are carried out online. Centres are re-opening by appointment only for adoption pick-ups.

For the impatient, there are many other adoption services available across New Zealand. The Cats Protection League works to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome stray or abandoned cats and kittens, while a number of 'cat cafes' also have the animals up for adoption. 

Adult cats are more readily available than kittens, and don't require toilet training - an added bonus.