A KITTEN crisis has developed following unregulated internet sales and a failure by owners to neuter their pets, Isle of Wight animal charities have claimed.
The Isle of Wight branch of the RSPCA is having to deal with a huge number of pregnant cats. During 2013, the charity re-homed 224 cats and still has between 40 and 50 at its Bohemia Corner centre in Godshill.
RSPCA acting manager Sally Richardson said: "People see free kittens on the internet and do not realise the costs.
"We had one cat recently that had only just had kittens and was back in again. We encourage people to have cats neutered and we include that in our homing fee."
Mark Buggie, inspector at the RSPCA, said: "The use of social media to sell or give away pets is not regulated. People were keeping cats and selling them to supplement their incomes but the bottom has fallen out of the market and they are just kicking them out.
"We have given out so many vouchers for neuters and spays, but some people just cannot be bothered and don’t seem to think it is their problem."
Cats Protection re-homed 408 cats and kittens over the last year.
Helen Sinclair, who was recently awarded an MBE for her work with Friends of the Animals, said: "In five years one cat has the potential to develop into 11,800 cats. Each kitten can start breeding after four or five months and have around three litters a year."
She blames website sales, relationship breakdowns and Christmas being used as an excuse not to spend on vet bills.
Friends of the Animals carried out 177 spays and 155 neuters in 2013.
Helen believes there are no excuses not to have it done, with so much help available.