Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary is calling for cat owners of Fermanagh to neuter their pets, due to a recent influx of stray kittens.

The local animal charity has faced a massive strain on both resources and volunteers’ time, often taking several hours each day in cleaning up after these kittens alone and occupying valuable space.

Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary manager, Brenda McManus (25), states: “When you get mums and kittens, that’s a whole litter that needs one room to themselves.”

According to UK-based charity, Cats Protection, only 88 per cent of pet cats in Northern Ireland are neutered, leaving 20,000 unneutered cats. An unneutered female cat can have kittens from four months old and have up to 18 kittens a year.

Hence, it is unsurprising that this has put a substantial strain on resources at Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary, which has seen more than 35 kittens arrive at their doors in a single month, and has been at full capacity since the start of June.

Occasionally these kittens arrive in very poor health, with a common issue being the spread of illnesses such as cat flu, which can be fatal to young kittens.

The circulation of many myths surrounding neutering cats, such as the idea that a cat should have a litter of kittens before being spayed, is one of the leading causes in this upsurgence in the number of kittens being abandoned locally or being born into feral colonies.

Brenda states that the benefits of neutering “far outweigh any negatives,” going beyond preventing unwanted pregnancies, neutering also reduces the risks of fighting between cats and the spread of FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

The hope for Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary is that with more people will opt to neuter their cats and reduce the number of unwanted litters and that they will no longer be forced to place animals on waiting lists, or turn away animals due to being at full capacity.

Help is available for those who may find it difficult to cover the cost of neutering their pets. Under Cats Protection’s neutering scheme, low income households and for those on benefits, state-only pension and pension credit can receive vouchers to get their cat for only £5, to be redeemed at local participating vets, which covers both the neutering and microchipping of your cat.

Many vets recommend that cats are castrated or spayed at four months old, greatly reducing the development of Mammary cancer and eliminating the risk of Ovarian, Testicular and Cervical cancers. Dogs Trust offers a similar scheme allowing people who fall under these categories to neuter their dogs for only £50, on a breed-specific basis.

If you choose to adopt a pet cat or kitten from Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary, often their animals have been neutered during their stay at the sanctuary, except in cases where the animal is too young to be neutered upon adoption, in which case Bright Eyes ensures the animals will be booked at a later date.