CAT charities are warning of a 'kitten crisis' partly brought on by owners being unable to neuter new pets during lockdown.

The Blue Cross, Cats Protection and the RSPCA have all reported large numbers of kittens and pregnant cats being handed over or abandoned during the lockdown period.

Since the lockdown was imposed in March, vets have not been able to neuter kittens at their usual rate and this has contributed to a surge of unplanned litters.

Danni Sheriffs, centre manager at Blue Cross in Thirsk said: “We are already seeing unplanned, unwanted litters of kittens handed over.

"Only the other day we took in a litter found in a box in a layby, a pregnant 18-month-old cat, plus an unplanned litter of four kittens, and we have a litter due to come in to us soon.

"They are now in the safe hands of foster carers or at the centre until they can find homes of their own.”

The Northern Echo:

Kittens are being abandoned due to unplanned litters (file photo) Picture: Pixabay

The Blue Cross has now launched a 'Sex Edu-Cat-ion' campaign urging owners to neuter their cats as soon as possible.

Many pet owners are unaware that cats can become pregnant as young as four months old, so it is vital that they remain inside if they are un-neutered, particularly over the summer months when cats predominantly breed - commonly known as ‘kitten season’.

Due to this lack of awareness, there is often a spike in unexpected cat pregnancies during April - September each year, leading to a significant increase in the number of kitten litters and pregnant young cats being left abandoned or unwanted - and putting a huge amount of pressure on animal welfare charities, like Blue Cross, who need to care for, and rehome them.

The national pet charity has taken over 200 kittens into their care to date this year and is preparing for the numbers to rise.