An animal adoption centre were overwhelmed this week when they took in a staggering 49 cats who had been living in an elderly man’s home.
Hammond Animal Trust had been informed that the man had become unwell and needed help looking after a large family of cats.
He needed an operation but would not go into hospital until his beloved cats and kittens were safe.
Health services were told there were ‘more than five cats’, but were shocked when arriving at the home to finds 49 cats and kittens -mainly shy ginger adults.
The rescue service, based in Lewisham, assessed the area and immediately knew the situation was out of hand. The cats were not receiving proper care, with the majority of the cats un-neutered and breeding uncontrolled.
The conditions in the home were also poor with dirty litter trays, destroyed furniture, roof leakages and filth everywhere. Some cats were also living in the loft, leading them to become very nervous.
Despite the conditions, rescue services believe the cats were well fed but were not being managed well by the elderly owner.
The organisation has now neutered the cats at the centre, and is looking to re-home the remaining cats and kittens.
The Lewisham Centre posted online: “We still have 25 cats from this group at our Lewisham centre, sadly these remaining cats are proving to be very nervous with people.
“They had been poorly socialised by their owner because he simply had too many cats.
“We are continuing to persevere with trying to gain the cats confidence but it is looking likely that some of these cats will need to be re-homed as semi-feral cats to suitable outdoor homes e.g Stables, Smallholdings etc’
The owner is now in hospital and will be staying with a relative for his recovery. He may be reunited with a small number of cats in future provided he is able to keep them in a safe and clean home.
It comes as rescue centres fill up with unwanted pets, and are urging struggling owners to to hold onto their animals until a new owner is available.
Due to the cost of living crisis charities claim thousands of pet owners have been forced to give up their animals. It comes after a number of animals have been dumped in the streets, figures showing a rise of 24% from 2021 to 2022.
Dermot Murphy, Chief inspectorate officer at the RSPCA said: “We understand that sometimes the unexpected can happen – the pandemic and cost of living crisis proved that – but there is never an excuse to abandon an animal.
There are always other options for anyone who has fallen on hard times and can no longer afford to keep their pet.”
Animal charities recommend struggling owners to swap for cheaper brands of pet food and make home-made toys to save money.