Community & Business

26 May, 2024

Animal refuge struggling with influx of cats, kittens

ABANDONED cats are being turned away or even euthanised due to a record-breaking influx at the Mareeba Animal Refuge.

Felicity Pollard with two-week-old kittens which are part among the 60 cats currently in the refuge’s care
Felicity Pollard with two-week-old kittens which are part among the 60 cats currently in the refuge’s care

The local shelter was built to house only 30 cats and kittens, but is currently caring for more than 60 stray and abandoned cats. 

As a result, the refuge is unable to accept any new surrenders and have been forced to make some “heartbreaking” decisions. 

Mareeba is not the only area feeling the heat, with Cairns, Port Douglas and facilities as far south as Gladstone being inundated with unwanted animals. 

Since January, the refuge has taken in a total of 109 cats and 96 dogs, with 87 of those cats and 77 of the dogs being adopted.

The highest number of cats and kittens the refuge has ever had was 50, but now the facility is being forced to take on 60 of the homeless animals, with demand not expected to decrease anytime soon.

“The biggest issues is people still not desexing their pets, letting them roam and they just have litter after litter after litter and they all end up here with us,” staff member Felicity Pollard said.

“Desexing is the biggest thing that we need to put out there. People need to take responsibility and start doing that.

“When you say you get them off the streets, people might think they're feral or something like that, but the heartbreaking thing is, they are all really nice. 

“When you adopt through a rescue, they have all their vet work done, they’re desexed, they’re vaccinated, they’re microchipped, all of that, so there's no ongoing costs there.

“Rescuing an animal out of a shelter then provides room for more so that we can keep caring for more because, at this point, we can't take in anything new.

“We are at double the capacity that the cattery really should be, that causes further problems as well, like health risks. 

“The cats are stressed, and they start fighting, and that's when we have to make tough decisions and, some cats do lose their lives unless we can turn this around right here right now.”

With vet bills alone costing the refuge on average $6,000-$8,000 a month, they are desperate for donations and welcome food donations or volunteer time to help lend a hand. 

“Food donations can go a long way too, kitten, puppy things like cat litter, because that's a cost as well that we can drop down a bit there,” Ms Pollard said. 

“A little bit goes a long way, so just people spreading the world of the heartbreak felt here can make all the difference.”

Anyone who can help can call the Mareeba Animal Refuge on 4092 3060 or email Alternatively, you can donate directly to the organisation to Friends of the Animals; BSB: 633000; Account no: 113217335


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