A Sheffield charity which cares for abandoned and unwanted cats says there is ‘no excuse’ for people dumping kittens – after five tiny newborns were found mewing in a dustbin.
The kittens were dumped in a waste bin in Sheffield, and were overheard by a passerby crying for their mother.
They are now being cared for by volunteers for Sheffield Cats Shelter in Travis Place, Broomhall – where manager Shirley Buckingham said the scenario was ‘sadly not unusual’.
“It’s not unusual and it’s not the first time it’s happened, sadly,” said Shirley, who runs the shelter – set up in 1897 and one of the oldest charities in the country.
“Someone had heard them crying and went to investigate. We were alerted, and when we got the kittens we realised they were only about two weeks old.
“Our deputy manager took them home and hand-fed them. Then we had a call from somebody who said they thought they knew where the mother was.
“We were able to get the mother into the shelter too, and reunite her with the kittens. She was in a bad way and was suffering, but she has taken to the kittens again and they are all doing well.
“But this is the problem when people don’t get their cats spayed - there’s always the problem of unwanted kittens.”
The shelter is run by eight full-time staff and a team of around 50 volunteers.
But Shirley said they are all often reduced to tears when faced with some of the cases of neglect.
“We try to do the best in sometimes impossible circumstances,” she said. “My volunteers are reduced to tears on a daily basis because they feel so helpless. We get cats in from all sorts of situations – people losing their home, losing their job, not being able to afford to keep pets, children developing allergies. The saddest ones are when people move house and leave their cats behind, locked in the house.”
The charity offers advice to those struggling to look after their pets and is open to visitors between 1pm and 4pm on weekdays for people to discuss the options. It also rehomes hundreds of cats – adopting out 460 last year – but is constantly stretched with more than 1,000 on its waiting list.
It relies entirely on donations to keep going at a cost of £160,000 a year.
Shirley said: “We are completely funded by donations and never put a healthy cat to sleep. Every cat is wormed, flead, neutered and microchipped when it comes in. We charge an adoption fee, which is currently £75, which covers all of those things. But the fee goes only a small way towards the average cost to the shelter of £400 per cat per year, which includes worming, flea-treatment, neutering, microchipping and vaccinations.”
Shirley said although ‘everyone wants a kitten’ the shelter always has older cats that need homes too.
“We do have quite a few older and more timid cats which are always a challenge to rehome,” she said. “Everybody wants a kitten but the older cats need homes too.”
The shelter has just opened a new charity shop in Ecclesall Road helping to boost its coffers.
And it is also looking for a new deputy manager.
“We need someone who can deal with aggressive cats and deal with the problems and all the administration and medication. It’s going to be hard.” said Shirley. ”
To find out more or see cats available for adoption, visit thesheffieldcatsshelter.org