Animal Welfare advocates believe rental shortages in the Illawarra are contributing to the steady increase in cats being put up for adoption in animal rescue organisations.

Animal Welfare League Illawarra employee Bethany Clare said she’s fostered 15 cats in the five months since she began working with the organisation.

“When I first started it was the spring kitten season because a lot of female cats had gone on heat, so it was back-to-back kittens,” she said. 

Cat foster carer for Animal Welfare League Illawarra with some of the kittens surrendered to the organisation. Picture supplied.

During the last financial year, RSPCA Australia noted that the number of cats surrendered or rescued by the organisation was the highest of all the animals received.

The RSPCA’s National Statistics report for 2022 to 2023 showed that 33,747 cats were taken into the care of the RSPCA, which amounted to 38.58 per cent of all animals seized or surrendered to the RSPCA across the country.

Ms Clare said she believes the number of landlords opting to not allow pets in rental accommodation was making it difficult for pet owners to find somewhere to live and some people are having to give their pets up as a consequence.

“I believe that landlords are cracking down on zero pets being allowed in rentals which is insane because animals are beautiful and also help people who experience loneliness or are battling with mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression,” she said. 

“The thought of so many cats and kittens being out on the street makes me feel awful which is the reason why I started fostering. I wanted to make sure these cats found a good home.” 

Bethany Clare started fostering cats because she couldn’t stand the idea of them being abandoned. Picture supplied.

While the number of cats being rescued and surrendered to animal rescue organisations continues to rise, so too has the percentage of live releases.

In their latest annual report, the RSPCA noted that the number of live releases, meaning the number of cats that have been adopted, reclaimed or transferred to another rescue group, had risen. 

Ms Clare said she’s noticed more people opting to adopt cats from rescue agencies these days. 

“I think people are choosing to adopt rescue animals because it’s more affordable, the advantage with cats is that they come litter trained, socialised, desexed and have already had their first vaccine,” she said. 

Ms Clare said she was one of 60 foster carers for cats in her local area, with some members focused on specialised care ranging from neonatal to caring for old cats that are “on their last legs”. 

Source: RSPCA

“The main issue behind the increase of cats coming in for care is pet owners not desexing their feline friends,” she said. 

“A lot of pet owners can’t afford to neuter their animals and that’s where the kitten season gets out of hand.”

Ms Clare said she hoped the trend of adopting rescue cats would continue and more people might opt to adopt older cats as well, which typically are less popular than kittens.