Fears of combating cats and rampant toms in Thanet amid neutering delays

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The fight against toms and wild kittens could be widespread due to delays and cancellations of pet neutering procedures during the pandemic.

Shortly after the initial lockdown, veterinarians were told that they could castrate animals if they deemed it necessary for reasons of population control.

An injured, uncastrated cat that Cats captured in Crisis Thanet. Image: cats in crisis

But Mary Knott, who runs Thanet Charity Cats in Crisis, has been inundated with calls from desperate owners unable to snip their cats or push back appointments.

Since the breeding season has already begun, she expects the problem will lead to an increase in complaints about unruly toms and wild or unwanted litters.

“We get calls every day from desperate cat owners saying that vets will refuse neutering unless there are exceptional circumstances,” said Ms. Knott.

“Rescue workers have done a lot of good work over the years but it looks like it is dissipating and we are returning to areas where rampant, uncastrated toms are common. They cause hygiene problems and attack people’s cats.

“There are a number of feline infections that can be transmitted by mating – such as feline AIDS and leukemia – which often result in cats dying or having to be euthanized.”

Mary Knott of Cats in Crisis.  Image: Barry DuffieldMary Knott of Cats in Crisis. Image: Barry Duffield

The Margate Branch of the People’s Department for Sick Animals (PDSA) states that it can only offer “emergency treatment” at this time.

Staff at Plunketts in Ramsgate and the Broadstiars practice Briar House also emphasize that they only castrate pets for welfare reasons and in urgent cases, including cases where male and female cats live together.

However, Companion Care Vets at Broadstairs say they are still taking bookings for neutered pets.

Ms. Knott – whose charity includes Margate, Broadstairs, Minster and Ramsgate – says she has humane traps to catch uncastrated strays across the district.

However, she and her team of volunteers at Cats in Crisis made an effort to get the creatures home as they couldn’t sterilize them as quickly as usual.

Mary Knott's charity, Cats in Crisis, is home to stray and feral cats.  Image: Barry DuffieldMary Knott’s charity, Cats in Crisis, is home to stray and feral cats. Image: Barry Duffield

Ms. Knott added, “We feel like we need to beg to have her neutered, while it was a routine before we were banned. It seems to be different in different areas, but Thanet has a little problem.

“We urge the vets to act quickly to remedy this situation.

“The breeding season has started and we now urgently need help.

“We are aware of a very sad case where a woman in an apartment was unable to neuter her cat and her neighbors can smell him and have complained to environmental health.

“Through no fault of her own, she is dealing with a very smelly cat that she is desperately trying to be neutered, and she has this terrible problem with her neighbors.”

Mrs. Knott fears that Thanet could be infected Ms. Knott fears that Thanet could be infected with “rampant” tomcats. Image: cats in crisis

As per Coronavirus guidelines, veterinarians have been advised that the procedures necessary to improve the health and wellbeing of animals, including castration, can be continued.

Daniella Dos Santos, vice president of the British Veterinary Association, says services may vary between practices.

“All veterinarians have been advised that work that is essential to the health and welfare of the animals can continue,” she said.

“This can include castration for population control if the veterinarian deems it necessary.

“However, we know that veterinarians have to work differently due to Covid-19, and the range of services will differ from practice to practice.

“This may vary due to human resources or practical considerations about how to work in a Covid-safe manner in your practice buildings.”

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can be found here.

Read more: All the news from Thanet