Parsnips, cranberries, sprouts. Not your Christmas dinner, but his three in celebration of the newly arrived furry black and white kittens at Battersea Dogs & Cat’s Home. Down the hallway of the Cattery, another of her three newborns are approaching the cat nativity scene with their parents.
According to Bridie Williams, Battersea’s cattery manager, the new arrivals are “ridiculously cute”. 133 kittens were born at the site, more than any other year in the last decade.
“We have had over 130 kittens born on site this year,” says Williams. “Usually about half”
Staff say far fewer pets have been spayed due to the cost of living crisis following sporadic access to veterinary care during the pandemic. And this inevitably led to a kitten boom.
“Younger cats are coming because owners can’t afford to keep them or have them spayed or neutered,” she added. “
She admits that there is a fun side to having so many small, curious and mischievous cats. A recently rescued black kitten called Peach ended up living in Williams’ office and attending several Zoom meetings. “She was incredibly social,” she said. “So she was my office companion for a few weeks.”
Since then, her office has become a temporary home for another kitten, Allegro and Lyric, who just moved in. “They cause mischief,” said Williams. “They need so much socialization that it takes a lot of time.”
Studies have revealed that between two and seven weeks of age, cats have a “socialization period” during which they learn which aspects of their environment are normal and safe. Anything not encountered during this developmental period is more likely to provoke a fear response in adulthood.
Ideally, Battersea would like to place kittens in foster care during these weeks, but the sheer numbers this year mean they are struggling to find placements for all of them.
To compensate for this, staff developed a list of stimuli the kittens need to experience, including females and males (because there are few male volunteers in Battersea, male office staff play with the kittens during lunch breaks). Recordings of domestic noises such as vacuum cleaners and televisions are used to prepare for living outdoors. “We create kittens that are confident, happy, able to interact with children and dogs outside, and develop courage,” Williams said.
Cats can become pregnant from about 4 months, and cats have a gestation period of about 63-65 days and can give birth to kittens at just over 6 months of age. Cats are usually seasonal breeders, entering their reproductive cycle only from spring to fall, and may come into heat every few weeks during this period.
Williams says the skyrocketing cost of living is making it difficult for some pet owners to cover veterinary bills and basic expenses. We recommend that you generally need to set aside £1,500 to cover your first year’s costs.
“Sterilization is really important, but it’s expensive,” she said. “When people first think of getting a cat, I don’t think they necessarily think of all the costs.”
Meanwhile, Battersea has also been getting more inquiries from owners of the Savannah Cat, an expensive hybrid between a domestic cat and a serval. Hybrids are incredibly attractive creatures with marbled markings, large ears, and athletic builds. However, their activity level and strong hunting instincts make them not always easy to manage as pets. “They can do a lot of damage and we hear from people who can’t deal with them,” said Joe Puzzo, the center’s cat welfare coordinator.
Williams said anyone considering adopting a kitten should also consider the time it will take to acclimate them to their new home. “Make sure you have time and read how much effort they put into it,” she said. , will give you joy and grow into a beloved cat that will be with you for 20 years.I always recommend getting a cat, but you need to make sure you have the right cat for you. there is.”