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Kittens left to die at riverbank

Kim McKinley with two dumped kittens now in her care. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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On two consecutive Sundays, kittens were rescued from the Waipoua River edge. They were on the limestone-chip path next to Queen Elizabeth Park.

A woman found both lots of abandoned kittens and got them to Kim McKinley for care. McKinley was also handed another kitten a few days later, which was found further along the track and across Colombo Rd. She believes it is from the same litter.

“The latest one is not doing so well as she is tiny and was very thin when I got her. She, along with the others, was left to die,” McKinley said.

“The tiny kittens are now six weeks old and need to be with the mother cat. We are in the thick of kitten breeding season, and this is a bad start.”

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 makes it illegal to mistreat animals and cause harm. The act establishes a duty upon the owners or persons in charge of animals to care for those animals.

A person must meet the animal’s physical, health, and behavioural needs, and must alleviate pain or distress. Dumping kittens was a breach of the act and could lead to prosecution.

McKinley said someone struggling with caring for kittens could surrender them to a vet for care.

“The mother cat needs spaying, and SPCA [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] can do this at cheap rates and sometimes runs the service without charge. Cats can have litter after litter of kittens, and it is irresponsible just to leave kittens to die,” she said.

SPCA was heading into its busiest time as vulnerable cats and kittens ended up needing help. Chief executive Andrea Midgen said the incoming animals stretched SPCA shelters and resources to the limit.

Last year more than 27,131 kittens and cats arrived at SPCA centres across New Zealand.

‘Kitten season’ usually ran from spring, with the peak in summer, and often lasted right into June. Kittens made up 75 per cent of all animals brought into SPCA centres.

Masterton SPCA centre manager Rebecca Johnston said she had already seen an increase in kittens coming in over the past few weeks.

“The Masterton centre gets pushed to the limit, and this places a huge strain on resources and staff with so many animals being born right now,” Johnston said.

“We really encourage pet owners to get their pets desexed as soon as they can to prevent more unwanted litters and help reduce the number of unwanted animals in our community.”

With the peak of kitten season in February, the number of incoming animals was only expected to grow, she said. Every animal adopted from SPCA would be desexed.

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