SPCA overrun with kittens following freeze in desexing during last year's lockdown

The SPCA is overrun with kittens.

The spike follows a freeze in desexing during last year's level 4 COVID-19 lockdown. The SPCA is calling on animal-lovers' help as its centres reach capacity.

Kittens, kittens and more kittens. Libby is just one newcomer filling up the SPCA's Wellington centre.

"We don't have extra space for these animals coming in," says Ros Alsford, general manager of the central region for the SPCA.

There's been a boom in kittens this summer after last year's level 4 lockdown prevented vets from desexing animals.

"Tens of thousands of animals would have missed out on that desexing," Alsford says.

That means there's been an explosion of cats without a home.

"We are seeing lots of strays in the community that are breeding because they haven't been desexed," Alsford says.

The SPCA has been receiving more than 800 animals a day across its centres.

"Any vulnerable animal that needs our help we don't turn them away," Alsford says.

The SPCA had 3500 animals in its care last summer. This year that number has increased to 4000.

"There are 2000 in foster homes, which is a huge amount," Alsford says.

Margaret Nixon is currently fostering 21 kittens. In all her 12 years taking in cats, this summer is the busiest breeding season she's seen.

"I've noticed there are more kittens and more unhealthy kittens," she says.

Nixon is calling on more people to foster.

"It's really rewarding to see a sick little bundle turn into something very adoptable," she says.

She fears cats left homeless by this year's breeding boom won't be so lucky.

"If they manage to survive at all they will turn into feral cats," Nixon says.

The SPCA is pleading for cat owners to take responsibility: "Please get your cats desexed."

And it has a message for everyone on behalf of the kittens too: "Please, we urge you to adopt."

It's hoped their plea will mean more kittens filling up SPCA centres can find a place to call home.