Hundreds of stray cats, kittens on waitlist for SPCA entry as Māngere Centre faces significant COVID-19 backlog

Hundreds of stray cats and kittens are waiting for their chance to find a forever home as SPCA's Māngere Centre faces what's thought to be its largest-ever waitlist.

More than 400 adoptable strays are waiting to be accepted into the South Auckland centre for crucial veterinary care - including de-sexing, deworming, vaccinations and flea treatments - before they can potentially be fostered or put up for adoption.

The centre is struggling to clear a significant backlog following successive lockdowns in Auckland last year, implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19. The accumulation of cats also stems from a longer-than-usual kitten season, partly due to warmer weather, a spokesperson for SPCA said on Thursday. 

When the Auckland region was plunged into alert level 3 or alert level 4 lockdown last year, SPCA was limited in what services it could provide. During these periods, the organisation was only able to accept sick or injured animals, meaning vulnerable but otherwise healthy strays were unable to be taken in for their chance at adoption. 

In instances where an animal cannot be immediately accepted, the SPCA does its best to provide food for the stray and advice to the person who reported the vulnerable animal, the spokesperson said. 

But now, the centre is struggling to make its way through the backlog of felines. 

"During each lockdown any healthy stray cats and kittens that we would normally take in for vet care and potentially adopt out, we weren't able to, so we had to put them on a waitlist and it just keeps growing," SPCA Auckland area manager Margaret Rawiri said in a statement.

Rawiri says while it's normal for SPCA centres to have a waitlist during kitten season, this is the worst she's ever seen it.   

"We're used to being pushed to the limit during kitten season, but not like this." 

In addition to the hundreds of cats on the waitlist, there are currently more than 400 felines already receiving care at the Māngere Centre, including 283 kittens who were taken in this month alone.  

The extended kitten season - combined with a decreasing number of adoptions - means the centre's cattery is full to the brim.   

"Usually, kitten season begins to slow down in March, but we're still seeing dozens of kittens and pregnant cats come through our doors," SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said. "Our Māngere Centre now has so many felines in its care that we've almost run out of cages and have no space to take in any more."

SPCA is now urging people who are thinking about adopting a cat or kitten to consider choosing their furry friend from Māngere Centre.

"We really need the public's help to find some of the cats and kittens in our care their forever homes, so we can create more space for other animals who need our care," Midgen said. 

"If you're considering adopting, we have so many wonderful cats and kittens with a wide range of personalities, colours and traits waiting to find their forever home."