An influx of kittens has sparked a pen-blocking crisis at a rescue centre.
Cats Protection’s adoption centre is full to bursting as the breeding season reaches its peak.
There are currently 56 kittens being cared for and the public rehoming wings are full.
Areas normally restricted to staff are now housing animals ready to be adopted and so they have been opened up to the public.
With so many kittens available, workers from the centre at Chelwood Gate are finding dozens of older cats are being overlooked, making the pen blocking problem even worse.
There is also a six week waiting list for cats waiting to come into the centre meaning the situation is expected to get worse over the summer.
Manager Danielle Draper said: “We always brace ourselves for this time of year, as we know it will get busy once female cats start having litters of kittens.
“Sadly this year seems to be no better than previous years.
“The problem is we have so many kittens and people would prefer to adopt them.
“It means the older cats are not being homed, and while they are perfectly ready to go to a new home, they end up taking up a pen for a long time.
“We have run out of space in our public rehoming wings, so we’re opening up our admissions wings to the public.
“It’s not ideal, as these are working areas, but we have to do whatever it takes to deal with the high number of cats we have.”
Ms Draper said it was the 22 cats over 12-years-old who were the most overlooked.
She said: “Kittens are clearly very cute, playful and endearing but we have a great number of really lovely, sweet-natured adult cats and it’s heartbreaking to see them passed by.”
ONE of the older cats in need of a home is 12-year-old tabby Rita, who was handed in as a stray in June.
Staff say she has a sweet and gentle nature, enjoys being fussed and groomed and likes the company of people.
She would suit a home where she can get plenty of attention, preferably as the only pet.
Cats are prolific breeders – one female can have up to 18 kittens a year – with the summer months being the busiest time for litters being born.
To find out more about adoption, visit www.cats.org.uk or call 01825 741 330.