AN ANIMAL shelter which is bursting at seams is being forced to turn away cats for the first time in its 24-year history.
Despite its best efforts, Stubbington Ark, the region’s RSPCA shelter, has reached its limit when it comes to space for cats.
With 145 cats currently in its care and all its pens full, even the most urgent cases are on a waiting list until September.
And less urgent cases will have to wait until March before they can be admitted.
Mike Ward, the Ark’s manager, said only emergencies could now be accommodated. ‘We try to filter a limited number of strays, unwanteds and casualties in on a daily basis but some days we have taken up to 11 when capacity had already been reached,’ he said.
‘To refuse would be to condemn an animal to an unknown fate as owners or finders threaten to dump them.
‘We’re committed to not destroying healthy animals, and the Ark uses every means possible to accommodate the impossible.
‘But, we’re constantly subjected to moral blackmail and threats by demanding owners and our resources have finally run out.
‘In the summer months at the height of the cat breeding season we always suffer an influx of unwanted kittens which are easier to home than adult cats but even they are sitting on the shelf this year.
‘Last year, our normal intake was 30 to 40 cats a month, but we’re now experiencing more than double that at 90 to 100 a month.’
Staff believe there are several reasons behind the rise in numbers, including the current financial climate which may have seen owners dump their pets when times are tight.
Other factors include cats not being neutered or getting microchipped, which makes it much harder for lost or stray animals to be reunited with their owners.
Mr Ward added: ‘Adoption applications are dropping as well. If you think you can give a safe loving home to one or more of our inmates, particularly an older cat, contact the Ark now for details of our adoption scheme.
‘And if you wish to admit a cat and the situation is not desperate please be patient – give us lots of notice and go on our waiting list.
‘If the situation is desperate, please still give us as much notice as possible to find a solution for your problem – our contacts and resources could mean that you may not need to lose your pet.’
The Ark, in Ranvilles Lane, Stubbington, can arrange to microchip pets for £10 a time. Anyone interested in adoption can call (01329) 667541. The animals are available to view every day from 10am to 3pm.