Kittens are undoubtedly one of the cutest baby animals. I think many people will agree they cannot resist their cute fluffy faces. Their tiny toes and their sweet little noise. Who wouldn't want to adopt a kitten?
Turns out, many people don't want one to adopt a kitten. We are here in full swing of kitten season, and it is the worst kitten season the island has experienced in many many years. We get calls at least 1 time a week to take in a litter of kittens. We are not even a cat sanctuary, but we took as many as we could. Do you know how hard it is to say no? Imagine having to turn down a family of kittens, knowing that all the other sanctuaries have to do the same thing. We do not have unlimited space, funds, and time. And neither do the other sanctuaries on the island.
The easy answer is: “I don't know, there should not be!” But that is not realistic, we do know why we just do not want to admit it. Some people think that it is easier and cheaper to discard the babies than it is to castrate your pets. We are not talking about the “every day” pet. It tends to be the people who have cats for chasing mice on the farms and other places. The cats that are wanted, but not really. Just to do their jobs. They continue this way until they are over run with kittens and then will be dumped in the closest bin or set free somewhere else to continue to breed and increase the problem. The problem is so huge now that it is almost impossible to see an end. The only solution is if someone wants to adopt a kitten.
We truly believe that most of the problem comes from ignorance and lack of knowledge, not from evil intent. Many think that the kittens will be fine, grow up chasing lizards and mice whilst enjoying their freedom. But this is just not the case they will be contracting leukaemia, getting eye infections and producing endless more kittens with the same fate. Every vet promotes castration, and many offer great discounts for low incomes or rescue cats. For this, it only upsets us more, the knowledge and the help is there if it is wanted.
22 and a waiting list for some space for more. 22 might not seem to bad for a sanctuary with lots of volunteers, right? Wrong. These are 6 different litters, so they need 6 different spaces to prevent cross infection before they are vaccinated and castrated. Anyone who has been to our sanctuary knows we are mainly outside. We do not have the planning permission to build buildings, and more enclosures to keep secure for the kittens. The ones we have built are full, such as the quarantine room and medical room. The rest of the litters of kittens are living in the bedrooms with volunteers. Fortunately, we have wonderful volunteers who are happy to keep them and care for them. They spend hours trying to tame the feral ones. They clean up the poo, clean the eye infections, give flea and worm treatments and take day to day care of them. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, as most of our accommodation does not have doors. This limits who can take a kitten into their room, so we are at full capacity.
On top of the 22 kittens, we also have 30 adult cats free around the finca. This is difficult working on “worming” day with 50+ cats. So, we rely on people adopting a kitten.
Yes, it certainly does. Here at Tenerife Horse Rescue, we chose not to cut any corners. All of our cats and kittens are blood tested for leukaemia, which is incredibly common and life-threatening on the island. We then give all of their vaccinations, castrate and keep up to date on a flea and worming program. Along with any other medical treatment a particular kitten may require, each kitten averages on around 300 euros. More if we cannot find them a home, and they will then transition into finca cats and will need monthly worm and flea treatments to keep them well and healthy.
Sadly, not really. Until people start to take responsibility of their pets, the fight will continue. Animal sanctuaries will continue to suffer as they have to turn away kittens, not knowing what their future holds. Sanctuaries will continue to have well-meaning but angry public shouting at them because they don't help them with the kitten they found in the bin. Sanctuaries will continue to crumble as the forever growing vet bill doesn't get paid off. Until the sanctuaries have more help from the government or the laws become stricter on animal welfare or more people adopt a kitten things will continue. But like every other sanctuary around (cat rescue or not) we will continue to do our best, fundraise and help the kittens we can and have sleepless nights about the ones we can not.