Influx of kittens at mid-Norfolk animal sanctuary
Staff at an animal sanctuary near Dereham are struggling with an influx of kittens needing round-the-clock care.
The PACT sanctuary at Woodrising, near Hingham, is currently home to around 60 cats and 40 kittens, including seven which are being hand-reared.
There is also a lengthy waiting list - growing all the time - of people wanting to hand their cats over to be re-homed.
'We seem to have be having a lot more enquiries than last year,' said Sue Leske, assistant to the administrators at the centre. 'We're very busy at the moment and it seems to be getting worse.
'The recession is making things a lot harder for people and it seems that the long-term pet is the first thing to go. We have been given cats people have owned for nine years and all of a sudden they can't afford them any more.
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'I wish everybody would have their cats neutured and micro-chipped so there wouldn't be so many pregnant strays wandering around. People don't realise that cats can get pregnant eight times a year and have up to 13 kittens in a litter.'
In a particularly busy day last month, two litters of new-born kittens came into the sanctuary and Mrs Leske volunteered to foster the 12 tiny animals.
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The seven surviving kittens, now around three weeks old, need to be bottle-fed every two hours, day and night, until they are weaned at ten weeks.
'It's exhausting work, but it's definitely worth it,' she said. 'I had three to hand-rear last year, but it's been constant this year. It gets easier as the weeks go by and they need feeding less often. Hopefully by Christmas I will have a cat-free house!'
More than 70 kitten have come into the centre since the season started at the beginning of May and each one has to be fed, vaccinated, neutured and micro-chipped before it can be re-homed.
'Every kitten will cost us about �130 just in the first three months,' said administrator George Rockingham.
The centre, which cares for more than 700 animals including donkeys, rabbits and pigs, relies on donations to survive and costs around �750 to run each day.
Click on www.pactsanctuary.org or call 01362 820775 to find out more.